Packed court honours Judge Moosa as a father, comrade, mentor

2017-03-09 16:18
Members of Judge Essa Moosa's in the Western Cape High Court with  judges and acting judges. Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron in the green robe also attended. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Members of Judge Essa Moosa's in the Western Cape High Court with judges and acting judges. Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron in the green robe also attended. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – Judges and lawyers joined the family of the late Judge Essa Moosa in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday as they remembered his legacy.

Some of the greatest legal minds were present to pay their respects. Among them were retired Supreme Court of Appeal judges and Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron.

The court and public gallery were packed to the rafters.

Moosa, who was once a judge in the High Court, died peacefully at his family home at the end of February after a short illness.

The tributes on Thursday centred on his work as a human rights lawyer, his connection with the downtrodden, and his willingness to help others.

Judge Siraj Desai described Moosa as an extraordinary individual with humble roots.

"He sought to address the imbalances of the past. He did so with intellectual courage and dignity. He will not be forgotten. His works live on."

Mosque on Friday, communion on Sunday

Advocate Anwar Albertus of the Cape Bar said Moosa's law firm had fearlessly fought for those detained or arrested for charges such as possession of banned literature, public violence and treason.

"No one was turned away when they went out and sought Essa Moosa," he said.

"During the struggle period, he dispatched some of us to virtually every court in the Western Cape: George, Knysna and Beaufort West."

Moosa's childhood home in District Six was apparently located between a mosque and a Salvation Army barracks, with an Anglican church opposite.

People smiled when they heard he used to go to mosque on Friday and then communion on Sunday.

The suburb is well known for having been a melting pot of cultures and languages.

"It is no small wonder that a man brought up in that environment was so cosmopolitan and so passionate in his love for others."

Advocate Joey Moses of Advocates for Transformation was also astonished by how Moosa could engage meaningfully with different types of people.

'His door was always open'

Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock said Moosa was a role model to all young lawyers during the struggle against apartheid.

"His door was always open and his telephone always answered."

He recalled Moosa travelling to George to a circuit court, and deciding to take a walk down the main street during lunch.

When he returned to the building after lunch, he was stopped by security as the alarm had been activated.

His pockets were searched and he had to remove some items of clothing, but still the alarm rang.

The judge was eventually allowed to pass after several increasingly embarrassing searches.

"He complimented the security on their vigilance," said De Kock.

"The security officer explained: they had to be particularly careful as there was a judge in the building. Judge Moosa of course said nothing and passed on his way."

'Comrade, friend and a mentor'

Moosa was one of the founding members of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Speaking on behalf of the association, Advocate Denzil Potgieter said its members would forever be indebted to him for his leadership and courage.

"He was a comrade, friend and a mentor to all of us."

The court suspended its operations for half an hour on Thursday to mark Moosa's passing.

Read more on:    essa moosa  |  cape town

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