Former agent remembers role

2018-03-28 06:00
Thubisi Segami(67) at the office that he used to serve during Robert Sobukwe’s term.Photo: Boipelo Mere

Thubisi Segami(67) at the office that he used to serve during Robert Sobukwe’s term.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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Thubisi Segami (67) shared his experience of being an agent of the late struggle icon and defender of human rights lawyer Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe since June 1976.

According to him, he is one of the proud, although unrecognised, people who played a role in the survival of Sobukwe’s office as an agent.

He said he was the first person to take tip-offs from clients before they came to consult with Sobukwe.

“I am very humbled that Sobukwe granted me the opportunity to play a part in our current liberation by Robert Sobukwe at the time,” said Segami.

According to him, Sobukwe’s office was tapped and wired. Every conversation he had with his clients was recorded at the then Transvaal Road Police Station.

“So, whenever a political client came to his office without seeing me first, he was referred back to my office in Mlimba Street or to Dr Palweniin order to get an update of the procedures to follow while in the consultation,” he added.

Among the rules he needed to acquaint the clients with was their sitting position, and how they had to cross their legs in order to get the warning signs across.

“They had to sit in a specific way so that, whenever the client would start to overstep a boundary during the conversation, Sobukwe could warn him in a subtle manner. They would then know to withdraw the statement.”

According to Segami, he worked as an agent until the police realised his role and started tracking him.

“I was never afraid and always told the police to go ahead with whatever they wanted to do. I was even banned at border gates.

“I remember how I saw my picture at the border gates of Botswana when I attended a wedding in 1993. I knew the police officer, and he put his job on the line to let me through.”

“I was traced through my hand writing and my dompass and then banned.”

The last time he saw his accomplice, Dr Palweni, was in 1978 when he packed his bag and said he was going to Kuruman.

He found a job at the Finch Mine west of Kimberley, and was later recruited to join the National Union of Mineworkers.

He could not attend Sobukwe’s funeral in the Eastern Cape in 1978, as he was prevented by road were road blocks and we were turned back on our way and prevented.

“Only the lucky ones who were not recognised managed to attend the funeral,” he said.

“It is my wish for Sobukwe’s former office to be respected. I am happy to learn that it will, from now on, be preserved accordingly.”


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