Nel pays tribute to Chaskalson

2013-03-07 17:34

Johannesburg - Former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson left a lasting legacy to South Africa's constitutional development, Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel said on Thursday.

"[He] complied with the demand placed on his wisdom, honesty and good sense, and that in so complying, he helped establish and steer through its formative years this important institution that is our Constitutional Court."

Nel was speaking at a ceremonial Constitutional Court session in Chaskalson's honour in Johannesburg.

In a speech prepared for delivery, Nel recalled former president Nelson Mandela's address at the inauguration of the Constitutional Court in February 1995.

"Your work is not only lofty, it is also lonely. In the end you have only the Constitution and your conscience on which you can rely. We look upon you to serve both without fear or favour," Mandela said.

Nel said he believed the justice department's ongoing work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system was a fitting tribute to Chaskalson's memory.

Chaskalson died on 1 December 2012, aged 81.

He served in the Constitutional Court from 1994, when he was appointed by Mandela.

He also served as chief justice of South Africa from November 2001 until his retirement in 2005.

During the apartheid years, he represented members of the liberation movement in several major political trials, including the Rivonia Trial.