Sachs honoured for contribution to human rights

2014-06-21 14:23

Taipei – Judge Albie Sachs was on Saturday awarded the Tang Prize, touted as Asia's version of the Nobel, for his contributions to human rights and justice.

Sachs, who lost an arm and the sight of one eye in a car-bombing by apartheid forces in Mozambique in 1988 and was later appointed to South Africa's Constitutional Court by former president Nelson Mandela, was recognised "for his many contributions to human rights and justice globally”, said the Tang Prize Foundation.

In particular, the foundation recognised his efforts "in the realisation of the rule of law in a free and democratic South Africa".

He will receive R18m, with about R14m in cash and the remainder in a research grant after winning the inaugural prize in the rule of law category.

The 79-year-old, who began practicing law at age 21, often defended people charged under the apartheid regime, and was arrested and subjected to torture as a result.

In 1966, he went into exile to England.

Eleven years later he moved to Mozambique to help build up a new legal system for the recently-liberated African country.

There, he was wounded in the car bomb by apartheid forces - an event he described as a turning point.

"Until then I was just another one of thousands of people in exile who had been in the struggle," he told the Guardian in 2011 of the attack. "The bomb for me introduced the element of madness [you find] in fable."

Sachs returned to South Africa in 1990 when the (ANC) was unbanned and Mandela released from prison, and played an active role in negotiations for a new constitution.

When Mandela was elected president in 1994, Sachs was appointed to the Constitutional Court, where he served till 2009.

There, he assisted in authoring many of the court's landmark decisions, including the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Named after China's Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the Asian prize was founded by Taiwanese billionaire Samuel Yin in 2012.

Earlier this week, Norwegian ex-premier Gro Harlem Brundtland was named as the first recipient of the prize for her work as the "godmother" of sustainable development, while noted Chinese American historian Yu Ying-shih was awarded for his accomplishment in sinology.

Immunologists James P Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan became joint recipients in the biopharmaceutical sciences category for their contributions in the fight against cancer.

  • Kholo Warren Jesus - 2014-06-21 14:31

    well done to my grandfather Albie is the black government that is trying so hard to eradicate all white freedom fighters from the history books. There is no single day that I do not shed a tear over the manner in which my aunt Ruth First was blown away. she sadly opened an envelope only to find out that it was a trap meant for her death. Many white people suffered enough under apartheid.

      Joe Black - 2014-06-21 17:03

      He can continue, the abuse only switched polarity.

  • Bryan Dek - 2014-06-21 14:49

    Well done Mr Sachs! You are a 'truly' good human being and another gift to this world!

  • Lolo James - 2014-06-21 15:17

    Albie Sachs is a very special selfless human being. Well done sir

  • Samuel Modumaela - 2014-06-21 17:55

    Congratulations are in order Mr Sachs. The first time I read ur story about the bombing in mozambique which resulted in you losing an arm and eyeside from the book titled" confessions of apartheid assassins" by jacque paw, I shed some tears.

  • Scouter Four-One - 2014-06-21 21:28

    I don't agree with his politics but I do admire his courage and conviction - that, where it is sincere as I believe it is in this case, should be treated with respect by one and all

  • Samuel Modumaela - 2014-06-23 07:28

    Mr Editor stop deleting other peoples comments please and yet you allow racists to post their nasty comments on this forum. Albie Sachs is honoured for his contribution he made to see democracy that we see today and yet u see thumbs down, for what? that explains it all that some peope are very angry at the democracy and are yearning for apartheid.

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