Veronica Sobukwe, widow of PAC founder Robert Sobukwe, dies

Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, the widow of PAC founder Robert Sobukwe, has died.

Sobukwe died at her home surrounded by her loved ones in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday morning.

She was 91.

A statement from her family confirmed that she had died in the early hours after being discharged from Midlands Hospital.

"Mrs. Zondeni Sobukwe, affectionately known as the 'Mother of Azania', was one of the most defiant and fearless icons of the struggle against racism-white supremacy in South Africa; she fought valiantly against the apartheid state apparatus and epitomised the dictum of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania: 'serve, suffer and sacrifice'," the statement said.

She was remembered by her family as a woman who dedicated her life to the cause of South Africans.

"The Sobukwe family is deeply grateful for the gift of her life and the innumerable lesson she leaves behind, and even as we mourn her passing, we celebrate her humility and the simplicity with which she approached and viewed life. Indeed, a Great Tree has fallen!"

PAC leader Narius Moloto expressed his admiration for Sobukwe following her death.

"We are saddened but at the same time we celebrate her life, a life well lived, and a principled woman. She was a very strong woman, she supported her husband through tribulation, she was behind Sobukwe.

"She never wavered, she raised the children alone because her husband was in prison or under house arrest.

"Women of this country can look up to Mama Sobukwe, she is exemplary," Moloto said.

According to the SABC, Sobukwe was awarded the Order of Luthuli earlier this year, 40 years after Robert Sobukwe's death.

In her youth she participated and led protest marches against racist conditions imposed on trainee Black nurses at Victoria hospital in Alice.

Her leadership of this protest march resulted in her later meeting with Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, the then Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President at the University of Fort Hare.

Following the Sharpeville Uprising on 21 March 1960, she fiercely challenged the regime on the unjust conditions surrounding Robert Sobukwe's incarceration under the draconian Sobukwe Clause, remained a backbone for her family and sacrificed her life for freedom and the vision of a liberated South Africa.