PAC Veteran Mark Shinners (Photographer: Alex Mitchley)
At a quiet voting station in Atteridgeville, a 75-year-old with osteoporosis, aided by his crutches slowly moves to the voting booth to make his mark.
Election officials and voters are oblivious that he is a struggle veteran, still fighting for change.
Mark Shinners became involved with the PAC as a teenager after the Sharpeville Massacre in the 1960s. He was arrested and convicted alongside former deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke for anti-apartheid activities in 1963.
He was sent to Robben Island, where he served the full term of his 10 year sentence.
After being released from prison, Shinners went right back into the fray, helping with the mobilisation of the 1976 student uprisings. Shinners and 17 other PAC members were convicted in what became known as the Bethal Treason Trial.
He spent another 10 years on Robben Island before being transferred to a Johannesburg prison, also known as Sun City, to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Speaking about the Struggle on Wednesday after casting his vote, Shinners spoke with passion about his organisation and his comrades, many of whom are no longer alive. At 75, he can still vividly recall dates and events.
Shinners says that the fight is far from over.
“It’s still Aluta Continua, but this time in terms of a dispensation in which political power is in the hands of a democratic majority.”
A democratic majority that has been betrayed, he added.
“The evidence is only coming out now, and the worst is still to come out.
“Here we have this type of national bourgeoise that are accumulating wealth unashamedly. It’s people we worked with, people we interacted with on a personal level, but they have transformed,” said Shinners, without divulging names.
“We are disappointed because what we have worked so hard for has been spirited from the masses.
“Our position is that okay, let them run the show, let them expose themselves and then we can work out our position and start to say the role of the national liberation movement is not dead and buried.”
Sitting outside the small voting station in his hometown, Shinners still believes with great optimism that there are solutions to the problems the country faces.
“This country has moved on and reached a level where a lot can be done,” he said.
“We are not going to be blind to the sacrifices, the bones of our people lie around this country. We are not going to be indifferent to that. We owe the families of these people, we owe it to them.”
“So say we fought the best we could, we were not equal to the task but we can still fight in principle and contribute in other ways.”
Shinners, when asked who he voted for, flashed a beaming, “The PAC of course,” he says, adding that he was confident the party would rebuild.
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