Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe died days after being discharged from hospital.
STRUGGLE icon Robert Sobukwe’s family don't blame the Midland Hospital for the death of his widow, Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, a few days after she was discharged from the Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape, facility.

The 91-year-old died peacefully at her Graaff-Reinet home surrounded by her children, daughter Miliswa and sons Dinilesizwe and Dedanizizwe, and other family members.

Dedanizizwe’s twin brother, Dalindyebo, died on May 9, 1999.

The Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Trust’s Thando Sipuye said yesterday that Ma Sobukwe, a retired nurse, had a good relationship with nursing staff and doctors at the hospital.

”They did their best. The Sobukwe family understood the Midland is a public hospital and sometimes has challenges of not having medication,” he said.

This past weekend, The Sunday Independent reported that Ma Sobukwe’s discharge from the hospital had to be delayed because she could not get her medication on time after a mix-up at the facility.

She had been at the hospital for three weeks before being discharged on Monday.

In July last year, I’solezwe lesiXhosa reported that she had no identity document and her eldest son Dinilesizwe had complained she could not access social services as a result.

Sipuye said she was in a ward with seven other women from the Graaff-Reinet area.

According to Sipuye, the Sobukwes understood that because Midland Hospital was a public institution she was not receiving the type of medical care she deserved.

He said the family had been unsuccessful in its attempt to get assistance from the government as no response was forthcoming despite Ma Sobukwe being recognised as a veteran and stalwart of the Struggle.

Yesterday, tributes poured in for her, with the Pan Africanist Congress, the party her husband founded in 1959, describing her as “very humble, resistant and loving”.

"We had already acknowledged the award or recognition she got from the democratic state but we emphasised that the timing was all wrong because they had forgotten her for too long. There was an attempt to mute her and her colossal contribution to the liberation movement as well as democratic dispensation,” the PAC said, referring to the Order of Luthuli in Silver bestowed on her by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April.

Her family said “although largely unknown, silenced and erased from public memory and national consciousness, she dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the Azanian people and, for this, was known far and wide as the ‘Mother of Azania’.”

Ramaphosa honoured Ma Sobukwe “for her tenacious fight for freedom and her steadfast support of incarcerated freedom fighters”.