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Albie Sachs

True justice of the peace

originally posted by: Alison Leslie
11th September 2006
Any news or updates listed at the foot of this item

Albie Sachs (1935) is a justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He was appointed to the court by Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Justice Sachs recently gained international attention in 2005 as the author of the Courts holding in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v. Fourie, in which the Court overthrew South Africa’s statute defining marriage to be between one man and one woman as a violation of the Constitutions general mandate for equal protection for all and its specific mandate against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In 1991 he won the Alan Paton Award for his book Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter. The book chronicles his response to his 1988 car bombing by Apartheid government agents in Maputo, Mozambique, in which he lost most of his right arm and the sight of one eye.

He helped select the art collection at Constitution Hill, the seat of the Constitutional Court. Justice Sachs is also recognized for the development of the differentiation between constitutional rights in three different degrees or generations of rights.

Maya Jaggi
26th August 2006
The Guardian

After losing an arm and an eye in a car-bombing, anti-apartheid activist Albie Sachs wrote his way to recovery. Now a high-court judge, he was integral to South Africa ‘s rebirth.

As a young lawyer and anti-apartheid activist in 1963, Albie Sachs was held in solitary for 168 days without trial. It was then that he discovered an affinity with Don Quixote. “The book was written after Cervantes had been in prison and moved me intensely,” says Sachs, now a judge in South Africa’s highest court. “I’ve often been told I’m a romantic idealist and ‘Quixotic’ – as though it’s pejorative. But in different moments of my life I’ve deeply identified with the slightly crazy idealist who’s constantly knocked off his horse, gets up with the help of Sancho Panza, and rides off to another encounter to be unseated and lie in the dust and get up again.”

Sachs’s worst moment in the dust was literal and brutal. He is still unable to view the photographs taken on April 7 1988 when a car bomb planted by South African agents blew him yards from his mangled vehicle in Mozambique. He was in exile, having been barred from practising law in South Africa. He suffered the loss of his right arm and the sight of one eye. Yet after two spells in prison, in 1963-4 and 1966, and the attempt on his life, he wrote his way to recovery.

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Related Articles:

Albie Sachs: “It has been a wonderful life. When I put all the things together, I can hardly believe it…”
(The Guardian – 1 April 2009)
The nightmare occurred far back in 1963 but Albie Sachs readily concedes “I haven’t got over the mental scars. Solitary confinement and sleep deprivation remain as deeply embedded scars in my soul.”

Publication: The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs
(March 2004)
Author of many books on human rights, Albie (Albert Louis) Sachs, obtained his BA and LL.B degrees at the University of Cape Town where he was arrested for taking part in Passive Resistance Campaigns.

Against all odds – the story of Albie Sachs
(The Skills Portal – 29 July 2009)
As a white lawyer in an apartheid South Africa, veteran Constitutional Court Judge and author Albie Sachs knew that to fight and defeat the oppressive system, he had to take advantage of his skin colour, writes Chris Bathembu.

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