The funeral of anti-apartheid activist and wife of late struggle icon Robert Subukwe, Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, was disrupted on Saturday by factions of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), eNCA reports.
The first disruptions occurred when members of the PAC, some of them in military gear, sang struggle songs during the police parade. They then forced their way into the funeral venue and demanded to replace state branding with party branding.
Earlier, PAC factional battles came to the fore at the funeral. One PAC faction prevented the leader of another faction, Narius Moloto, from entering the church venue for the funeral.
The faction claimed Moloto was not welcome, as he was “not a PAC representative”. He was escorted out of the venue while the leader of another faction Luthando Mbinda was not disturbed.
Speaking to the African News Agency (ANA) after the incident, Moloto said this was the work of the hooligans who came to disrupt the funeral.
“In PAC there are hooligans; this incident is the work of the hooligans who came here for the purpose of disrupting the moment where we should be paying our last respects,” Moloto said.
A video shows the funeral, held in Graaf-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, descending into dramatic scenes of chaos as various officials call for calm.
Deputy president David Mabuza was escorted away from the venue by security personnel.
Sobukwe family spokesperson Sizwe Mfaxa says it is unclear whether he will be returning to deliver a eulogy as planned.
Earlier, Thandiswa Mazwai had delivered a moving tribute in song before fighting marred the proceedings.
The liberation icon, who is receiving an official state funeral, passed away on August 15.
At the time, the PAC confirmed that the widow of its party founder Robert Sobukwe passed away in the early hours after a long illness.
“It is with great sadness that we wake up at the saddest news that we have lost one icon of the liberation, Mma Veronica Sobukwe,” said the PAC in a statement.
It has been reported that she died at the Midland Hospital in Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape after spending three weeks there.
Her husband died in 1978.
Zondeni, also known as “The Mother of Azania” was a health practitioner and an activist during the liberation struggle.