Zuma pays tribute to a ‘brilliant legal mind’

2011-04-16 14:13

President Jacob Zuma has paid tribute to the late KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Qedusizi Msimang, saying he had “epitomised’’ the independence of the judiciary which helped make South Africa a stable constitutional democracy.

Zuma was addressing the funeral of Msimang (60), who died from a heart condition last week, at Hilton College outside Pietermaritzburg.

Zuma said Msimang had believed passionately both in the law and ensuring that ordinary people had access to it, and called on the legal fraternity to continue with initiatives to ensure this access as tribute to him.

Zuma was accompanied by several cabinet members, including Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, while Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo and his predecessor Justice Pius Langa were joined by a large contingent of judges to pay tribute to their colleague.

Msimang, a longstanding legal practitioner and founder member of the Legal Resources Centre, was appointed as KwaZulu-Natal Judge President in April last year.

He shot to fame during Zuma’s corruption trial, throwing the case out of the Pietermaritzburg High Court after ruling that the National Prosecuting Authority had erred in its prosecution of Zuma.

Ngcobo told mourners Msimang had been a brilliant legal mind who was totally committed to the values of the Constitution and had been a driving force in securing both transformation of the judiciary and improved access for the poor.

Msimang, Ngcobo said, had risen to the highest judicial office in the province despite the obstacles thrown in his path by the society he had been born into.

Radebe drew laughs from the mourners when he spoke about their shared experiences as students at university, saying Msimang had been a great lover of soul music and shocked fellow residents of their block by climbing out of a seventh floor window to retrieve a record player that was locked away in a friend’s room to get to play his favourite Brooke Benton record.

Msimang is survived by his wife and four daughters.

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