Chaskalson honoured for his contribution

2012-12-03 18:02

Johannesburg - Tributes to former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson continued to pour in from political parties, the legal fraternity and civil society on Monday.

Former president FW de Klerk described him as one of the founding fathers of South Africa's constitutional democracy.

"In this capacity, he played a leading role in developing the independent, non-racial and transformative culture that continues to characterise our highest court," De Klerk said in a statement.

Chaskalson died at the age of 81 in Johannesburg on Saturday, reportedly of leukaemia.

He had been a principled campaigner for human rights throughout his career.

"Before 1994, he defended many opponents of apartheid including the Rivonia trial in 1963."

De Klerk added that Chaskalson had also played a key role as an adviser in the negotiations, which led to the adoption of the 1993 Constitution.

"Elita and I would like to convey our most sincere condolences to former Chief Justice Chaskalson's family and friends."

The ANC said Chaskalson's death left a void in the legal fraternity. "South Africa has lost a sterling and outstanding man who had an immeasurable impact to the country's constitutional democracy and the post apartheid jurisprudence," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

"Judge Chaskalson played a pivotal role in opposing apartheid laws and their manifestations," said Mthembu.

Chaskalson was the first president of the Constitutional Court and was chief justice from November 2001 until he retired in 2005.

Legal skills

In 2002 he was awarded the Order of the Baobab, one of the highest accolades the government can give to a South African citizen.

He was buried on Monday in a private, but special official funeral at Westpark cemetery, in Johannesburg.

It was attended by President Jacob Zuma, and was followed by an official memorial service.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said Chaskalson had used his great legal skills to advance the struggle for freedom and democracy.

"Chaskalson will always be remembered and honoured as one of the key role-players in the construction of our world-renowned constitutional dispensation, said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven.

He said Chaskalson would be remembered for his leadership in the Constitutional Court, which had consistently protected and extended the country's democratic rights.

"We owe it to his memory to make sure that we never undermine the democratic foundations he laid down in his lifelong commitment to promote social justice and human rights," said Craven.

The Black Lawyers' Association (BLA) said the role Chaskalson had played in shaping the country's jurisprudence under the constitutional dispensation was well archived, preserved and documented throughout the world.

BLA president Busani Mabunda said South Africans had a duty to closely scrutinise Chaskalson's contributions towards sticky and thorny issues.

"It will, in his legacy and in remembrance of him, be pivotal to apply our minds and digest his views to craft the proper destiny of this country," said Mabunda.


  • robert.ferreiro - 2012-12-03 18:34

    We have lost a BIG MAN...RIP Sir and thank you for your big contribution to our wonderful country.

  • norman.buchalter - 2012-12-03 18:38

    We owe it to his memory to make sure that we never undermine the democratic foundations he laid down in his lifelong commitment to promote social justice and human rights," -- Yes patrick craven. Nice words, but with the Secrecy Act , The Etolls debacle and all the looting going on, yes with Cosatu saying it won't instruct it's members in Parliament to vote against the Secrecy Bill, you and the govt are already sullying the memory of one of your brightest, most compassionate and able sons who would be horrified to know what might happen after his untimely death. He may have died of leukemia, but after his defence of the Constitutional court decisions ,earlier this year ,against what he saw as unnecessary govt interference by the intended ConCourt reviews, must have contributed to breaking even his strong fighting spirit. Blessed be his memory, but shame, shame , shame on the rest of you and this tripartite devil's alliance!

      morne.demeillon - 2012-12-03 18:59

      If our constitution is so strong, how is it then possible for the ANC to pass the secrecy bill? Is it possible for our constitutional court to make this ruling invalid?

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-12-04 01:48

      @ISO - they can pass the bill - which is an Act of Parliament. We still have the right to challenge it in the Constitutional Court.

  • george.pito - 2012-12-03 18:39

    To me he been part of the struggle to get this country where it is now. You be the judge?

  • george.pito - 2012-12-03 19:25

    Explain this human rights to me with BEE where a young white kid cannot get a bursary , a job or make sports team. The whole tender system is based on the most tender wins. Thats what he worked for. Who pays the taxes in this country. Evry single structure in this country except SARS is useless. A president with almost no eduaction many wives and part of a corruption deal then a next. No my friends this is not apartheid it is plain common Africa. Dont you get it this is not even in your own interest as so called disadvantaged.

  • theodore.mhlongo.9 - 2012-12-03 19:28

    Farewell... Master, till we meet again.

  • Lelethu Zizipho Earlzee Ntshiba - 2012-12-03 19:31

    didnt know he was still alive...when is he going to die lol....jst kidding

  • bafana.malaza.5 - 2012-12-03 23:16

    makua you are my man. you tell it as it is. at some point de klerk presided over bantu education as a minister. he made sure that blacks would only be garden boys and maids serving baases and madams.

      morne.demeillon - 2012-12-04 07:10

      No being garden boys and maids was your own choice, you had a right to education, what you make of it is your problem, so don't put the blame on other people for those not willing to educate themselves, you fool!

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