Airport named for Bram Fischer

2012-12-14 00:00

RIVONIA defence attorney Bram Fischer was yesterday honoured when President Jacob Zuma officially renamed the Bloemfontein airport after him.

Fischer, who came from a prominent Afrikaner family and represented former president Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial in the 1960s, died while under house arrest in Bloemfontein in 1975.

Speaking at the event, Zuma said renaming the airport after Fischer should stand as a timeless reminder of the role he and his generation of freedom fighters played in the liberation struggle.

Zuma also said many around the world never understood how white compatriots who believed in human rights and justice sacrificed their privileges as they could not accept that other human beings could be treated inhumanely.

“Current and future generations will draw lessons from the life of Bram Fischer and his selfless contribution to this country,” he said.

Ilse Wilson, daughter of Fischer, said her father would have been embarrassed that the airport was renamed after him.

“He was a modest man. He would have said he was part of a collective and that he should not be singled out,” Wilson said.

She also said her father had regarded an award he received while he was in prison as “a gesture of solidarity, not a personal recognition”.

Wilson said her father would have wanted the Kimberley airport renamed after PAC founder Robert Sobukwe.

“He would feel much better if the nearby airport in Kimberley was renamed Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe,” she said, adding that Fischer would have been pained by the greed and money sought by some nowadays to enrich themselves.

Zuma agreed with Wilson, saying she had made an absolutely important statement. “It says a lot about who Bram Fischer was and where South Africa should be.

“As I was sitting there I thought Bram Fischer was speaking,” he said.

“Thanks for that point you made,” Zuma said, referring to Wilson’s statements about Sobukwe.

He then acknowledged the role Sobukwe played in the liberation struggle.

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