As the world commemorated the death of Nelson Mandela on Monday, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) made an appeal to government to declare December 5 a public holiday and name it after their fallen anti-apartheid hero, Robert Sobukwe.
Sobukwe, the founder of PAC, was born on December 5, 1924 in Graaff-Reinet and Mandela died on December 5, 2013. Both leaders were incarcerated at Robben Island.
However, Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement in a house under the Sobukwe Clause, away from Mandela and others who were kept in single cells.
Sobukwe was arrested and sentenced on May 4, 1960 for three years for mobilising blacks to protest and demand the repeal of pass laws on March 21, 1960. On the day recognised as the Sharpeville Massacre, the apartheid police shot and killed 69 people and left 180 injured.
According to information taken from the South Africa history website, at the end of his three- year sentence, the apartheid government “enacted a General Law Amendment Act. The Act included the Sobukwe Clause, which empowered the minister of justice to prolong the detention of any political prisoner indefinitely”.
“Subsequently, Sobukwe was moved to Robben Island, where he remained for an additional six years. The clause was never used to detain anyone else. The Sobukwe Clause was renewed every year and when it was due to expire on June 30, 1965, the government
Speaking to The Citizen on Monday, PAC spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe said Mandela should not be the only political icon to be remembered on this day.
“We are worried that not honouring Sobukwe will seem as if his contribution towards the liberation of this country was less important,” he said..
“This day should not be about one man [Mandela]. It should be officiated as a public holiday and called Sobukwe day. Robert Sobukwe was a visionary and not a prophet of doom,” Mokgatlhe said.
Mokgatlhe said the spotlight should not be on the African National Congress’s political icons because many, from different political parties, played an integral role in South Africa’s liberation, but their efforts have been discounted.