Obituary: PMB lawyer and activist Kader Hassim

2011-11-11 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG lawyer and former Robben Island prisoner Kader Hassim (77) died on his birthday yesterday, days after he was admitted to hospital.

Hassim who was also known as A.K. Essack in legal circles, was released from Robben Island in 1980.

Hassim was arrested and detained from February 17, 1971, until June 16, 1971, when he was formally charged with four counts under the Terrorism Act for rendering assistance to Unity Movement members who had re-entered the country from abroad.

His wife, Nina, was also detained at the time.

He was sentenced to 21 years in prison, but his sentences ran concurrently for eight years. Before and after his arrest and imprisonment Hassim spent several years under house arrest.

While he was in prison the Natal Law Society struck him off the roll of attorneys.

Morgan Naidoo, his long-term partner in the law firm, said that on his release Hassim refused in principle to apply for re-admittance, saying it was up to the society that had him removed to reinstate him, which city lawyers voted unanimously to do.

Naidoo said he had a 45-year association with Hassim, who was a disciplined person who rigidly upheld the rules of the law society and the ethical codes of the profession.

“I learnt a lot from him and I believe this is what made our law firm a success,” Naidoo said.

He said Hassim was also known for his temper and for getting involved in arguments with advocates and fellow lawyers.

“He would come back and tell me, ‘you deal with this’ and I would go and make peace. Through all of this he was widely respected for the principled position he took on matters.”

Hassim was born in Dundee on November 10, 1934. He became involved in organisational politics and his affiliation was to the Non-European Unity Movement, later to become the Unity Movement.

He did his law degree at Natal University, where he was actively involved in politics. By 1964, he was a member of the African People’s Democratic Union of SA (Apdusa) and remained a member all his life.

During his retirement he became a well-loved member of the northern suburbs community and was especially well-known among the hundreds of early morning and later afternoon walkers in the Protea Sports Ground in Raisethorpe.

Hassim’s funeral was held yesterday. He leaves his wife, son Enver and granddaughter Liana. His son, Lyov, died in January this year.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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