SACP’s Mapaila apologises over Sobukwe comments

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JOHANNESBURG, February 15 – South African Communist Party (SACP) deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila has apologised to the late Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) leader Robert Sobukwe’s family and party after he claimed that Sobukwe was given preferential treatment by the apartheid regime, while fellow Robben Island inmates were treated as slaves.

”On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, during my address on ‘The National Question: Race, Class and Gender’, at the Liliesleaf Farm in Johannesburg, I made comments regarding the unforgivable segregatory approach that was followed by the apartheid regime with regard to the treatment of prisoners, specifically Robben Island prisoners. In emphasising the point, I included the name of Professor Robert Sobukwe as an example,” Mapaila said in a statement Thursday.

”I hereby furnish an unreserved apology to the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), the Sobukwe family and to his legacy. I fully respect the Professor’s contribution to the liberation struggle.”

Mapaila had further told reporters on Wednesday that by accepting the privileges from apartheid authorities, the founder of the PAC had colluded with the regime.

”For instance, they put him in a house at Robben Island and treated him as the main political prisoner while others were treated as terrorists and slaves. They were condemned to hard labour…it is known all over the world that political prisoners are treated better. Our leaders were crushing stones at the quarry on the island while Robert Sobukwe received clothes, books, a radio although he was in isolation, which in itself should be condemned as he was not allowed access to other prisoners. That was used by the apartheid regime to punish those comrades who supported the SACP and regarded as communists,” said Mapaila.

The SACP leader said he met with PAC president Narius Moloto on Thursday and apologised.

”I have also spoken with the Sobukwe family, through Dini Sobukwe, to express my profound apology and will create time to visit the family in person. I will also engage other leaders of the PAC on the matter.”

”Lastly, I must reiterate the point that it was the apartheid regime that incarcerated Professor Robert Sobukwe, created the “Sobukwe Clause” and kept him separate from the rest of the prisoners on Robben Island. The segregation was committed by the apartheid regime for its own racist ends. These acts remain the sins of the apartheid regime and remain unforgivable.” (ANA)