The Triumph of Humanity and Social Justice
Albie Sachs speaks around the world sharing the South African experience of healing a divided society. He talks of his earliest experience, being born to a Jewish family who fled Lithuania and the Tsar’s discrimination. He tells the story of his career as a human rights activist and his participation in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign and the Congress of the People at Kliptown which paved the way for his eventual career in the law and his appointment in 1994 to the Constitutional Court of South Africa by Nelson Mandela.
He talks about his role in the establishment of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the development of Soft Vengeance, focusing on the power of restorative rather than punitive justice.
The Constitutional Court of South Africa: Art and Justice/Light on a Hill
A well known figure in the field of public art and architecture, Albie Sachs features a screening of the film: "The Constitutional Court of South Africa: Art and Justice/Light on a Hill," (35 min.) and follows up with a talk and Q and A focusing on construction of the Constitutional Court in the heart of the prison where both Gandhi and Mandela were jailed.
On turning six, during World War II, Albie Sachs received a card from his father expressing the wish that he would grow up to be a soldier in the fight for liberation.
His career in human rights activism started at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Three years later he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted. He started practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar aged 21. The bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence. He himself was raided by the security police, subjected to banning orders restricting his movement and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention.
In 1966 he went into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England he worked for a further eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye.
During the 1980s working closely with Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC in exile, he helped draft the organisation's Code of Conduct, as well as its statutes. After recovering from the bomb he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994 he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court.
In addition to his work on the Court, he has travelled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He has also been engaged in the sphere of art and architecture, and played an active role in the development of the Constitutional Court building and its art collection on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg.
ALBIE SACHS - SOME ADDITIONAL FACTS:
BA and LLB, University of Cape Town (1951 - 1953; 1955-1956)
PHD, University of Sussex (1971)
Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of :
Books published include:
The above two books were dramatized by David Edgar for the Royal Shakespeare Company and filmed for the BBC.
Honorary Bencher of Lincolns Inn
Member of the Appeals Commission of the International Cricket Council
Head of the Panel that chose the design for the logo for the 2010 Soccer World Cup
Awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver by the President of the RSA for excellent and selfless dedication to human rights activism and the struggle against apartheid - 2006
15-year term on the Constitutional Court ended on 11 October 2009
Recipient of the Reconciliation Award from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation- 2010
Recipient of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal - 2010
Recipient of the First Tang Prize in Rule of Law - 2014