SABC News - Fury as Sobukwe’s law practice goes to ruins:Thursday 27 July 2017

Fury as Sobukwe’s law practice goes to ruins

Thursday 27 July 2017 17:48

Neo Bodumela

The Sol Plaatje Municipality plans to look for funding to renovate the offices of Robert Sobukwe.

The Sol Plaatje Municipality plans to look for funding to renovate the offices of Robert Sobukwe. (Twitter: @pulengModupe)

The former law practice of Robert Sobukwe in Galeshewe in Kimberley is in a dilapidated state.

The local Sol Plaatje Municipality had promised to renovate the offices with the view of turning it into a national heritage site or a museum. However, those promises have not been fulfilled and the office has now been neglected.

Broken windows, faeces on soiled floors, no doors and walls covered in offensive graffiti. This is the state of the former law practice of struggle icon Robert Sobukwe.

The office was used by Sobukwe to give legal counsel to locals after he was banished to Kimberley in 1969 by the apartheid government.

The office was supposed to be a centre point for the Mayibuye Uprising Memorial in Kimberley, but it has become a drug den and an unofficial public toilet.

The state of the building has left the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of which Sobukwe was the first president fuming.

"We are very much disappointed because of the promise that has been made by the state to turn that house, which Sobukwe was banished to when he was released from Robben Island, into a heritage site because it is part of our history and heritage. We believe that the offices he was using to help people legally in Kimberley and the house in which he was imprisoned should all be turned into the museum or some sort of heritage site,” says Spokesperson for the PAC Kenneth Mokgatlhe.

"We didn't budget for the revamp of the vandalised property"

The office of Robert Sobukwe belongs to the local Sol Plaatje Municipality.

About nine years ago, the municipality developed a plan to refurbish the offices of Sobukwe. The plan has now been put on hold as it has no space in the municipality's budget.

"We didn't budget for the revamp of the vandalised property because clearly as you would understand that our intention was to provide this unique place that serves highly in the history of our country; now it has been vandalised, which is very unfortunate. It’s not only the property of the late icon Professor Sobukwe, but it is the entire place here which is also historical," says Municipal Spokesperson Sello Matsie.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Culture is attempting to purchase Sobukwe's place of residence in Kimberley.

Spokesperson for the Department, Conrad Fortune, says the department's plan is to ultimately have the residence turned into a museum.

"The home of Robert Sobukwe is currently owned by a private citizen. So, as the department, we are in consultation with him - the owner of the house - to sell the house under the willing buyer willing seller principle. Once we achieve that and once we manage to purchase the home from this gentleman, we will apply to have the house turned into a heritage site".

The Sol Plaatje Municipality says it is planning to approach provincial government and private individuals for funding in order to renovate the offices of Robert Sobukwe.

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