Mogoeng pays tribute as Bam laid to rest
Johannesburg - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng paid tribute to judge Fikile Bam's role in transforming the judiciary, as he was laid to rest in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.
"We will then continue that mission, strive for transformation within the judiciary and have a judiciary that speaks to African needs and problems," said Moegoeng at the funeral of the former chief justice of the Land Claims Court.
Bam who served the court for 15 years, died earlier this month from cancer at the age of 79.
Among those in attendance at the funeral were former president Thabo Mbeki; wife of former President Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel; Public Protector Thuli Madonsela; Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu; former minister of safety and security Charles Nqakula; Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet; United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa; Judge Cheryl Loots of the Land Claims Court and former Cape Town archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.
Earlier, Xhosa historian Mda Mda told the mourners that Bam did not compromise on his ideals.
"Fikile had leadership qualities that many need in South Africa today, including government. He was not about himself, but he was an achiever on merit."
Bam shared the same birthday with former president Nelson Mandela.
While imprisoned on Robben Island he taught anthropology and English to fellow political prisoners in quarry site where they used to do labour.
He also offered legal advice to them, and sometimes even to warders.
On Tuesday, the gravel road leading to Goqwana village near Tsolo in the Eastern Cape was graced by convoys of luxury vehicles as the high-ranking South Africans made their way to the funeral venue.
Other mourners travelled on foot and by horse to pay their respects.
Bam's local agricultural co-ordinator George Marere was also in attendance.
He said that Bam had been hoping to become more involved in agricultural projects in the area in the near future. "He told us he was to retire from work and come and lead these [agricultural] projects," said Marere.
"He even requested us to make sure that the Tsolo Agricultural School was well functioning and equipped with necessary equipment, so that he could fund young people to enrol at the school."
Meanwhile, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in a statement that the country had lost a great legal mind.