Local activist empowers the marginalised

2016-11-02 06:02
Nelson Mandela Bay attorney and activist, Tasneem Fredericks, is passionate about assisting the marginalised.    Photo: SUPPLIED

Nelson Mandela Bay attorney and activist, Tasneem Fredericks, is passionate about assisting the marginalised. Photo: SUPPLIED

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HER belief that apartheid is not a mere struggle to be forgotten but part of our history to be remembered, is what motivates her to empower those who still today, suffer the effects of the past.

Tasneem Fredericks (39) a Nelson Mandela Bay attorney, notary public and conveyancer, is the founder and managing director of the law firm, Fredericks Incorporated which has been around for almost a decade.

She is often asked to speak at various workshops on transformation, and could be described as an activist supporting change to the current economic landscape, women empowerment and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) among other causes.

Her determination to rise above unfavourable conditions, resulted in finding her voice at a young age and holding onto her goal of furthering her studies.

She grew up in the northern areas and attended Gelvan Park Primary School where she often held titles of achieving first and second place in the grade.

“There’s this idea around Muslim parents that education is going to ruin you in terms of your moral values. I remember my dad being resistant in allowing me to go to high school. My mom was the one who said let her go.

“I passed matric and knew that I wanted to go to varsity. Again, I got the same resistance from my dad. My mom was really pivotal, she made enquiries for student loans and stood in queues.”

Fredericks attended St Thomas High School and was unsure about which career path to follow as career guidance was not offered in her community.

“I went to varsity not knowing what I was going to study, only knowing that I was going to study.”

“I’ve always yearned for something better for myself, knowing that my parents had a hard life and not having a lot of money growing up.”

During her first year of varsity at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Fredericks chose to study a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology but shortly changed courses in order to pursue law.

“I was always drawn towards justice. I’ve always had this sense of what is fair and what is not fair, and so I naturally gravitated towards law.”

Fredericks grew up during apartheid, and has vivid memories of segregation. She remembers being around the age of seven, travelling on a bus and witnessing the difficulty her mother had in explaining the harsh realities of apartheid and why she could not enter certain restaurants.

Although various struggles around the world draws her attention, Fredericks resonates with the Palestinian struggle because of the similarities South Africa and Palestine share.

“I’m a conveyancer, so this land issue in South Africa is a painful one. It’s about injustice, it particularly resonates with me because South Africa and Palestine are so similar in terms of their apartheid history and the current situation.”

Fredericks lectured law part-time at the NMMU South and Missionvale campuses and currently lectures to candidate attorneys as part of their practical legal training.

She recently started lecturing once a week in practical conveyancing, training paralegals as part of the Black Conveyancers Association’s training academy.

She has a mentorship program with NMMU law students who are part of the Black Management Forum’s Student Chapter and recently rendered legal assistance to the students arrested for the #Feesmustfall campaign.

Fredericks is also an executive member of the Black Conveyancers Association, and board member of the Black Management Forum.

She also serves on the Presidential Working Group on Labour for the Black Business Council.

Thinking back to her journey of pursuing education despite financial barriers and unfavourable conditions, Fredericks added, “how I made it is through the grace of Allah.”

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