President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday paid tribute to the former lawyer of late president Nelson Mandela and human rights activist Lord Joel Joffe.
Joffe, aged 85, died on Sunday in London in the United Kingdom.
“We have learned with sadness the passing of one of our most respected legal minds, Lord Joel Joffe, who played a critical role during the liberation struggle for our freedom and democracy where he represented political prisoners including the late father of our nation, President Nelson Mandela and other liberation icons,” Zuma said in a statement.
“On behalf of government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, we wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to Joffe family, relatives and all in the legal fraternity across the globe.”
Joffe was part of the defence team that represented struggle heroes including Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi during the Rivonia Trial in 1963, the presidency said.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation also extended its condolences to the family and friends of Joffe.
“Joffe is among a class of defence attorneys who served South Africa and our liberation struggle with distinction. Joffe was the defence attorney of two Robben Islanders who have served on the foundation’s board, Kathrada and Laloo Chiba,” the foundation’s executive director, Neeshan Balton said.
“It took a great deal of bravery and conviction to defend anti-apartheid activists in the 1960s, at a time when Mandela, Sisulu, Kathrada and others were regarded as ‘terrorists’ by the state. Lawyers such as Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson, Bram Fischer, George Bizos, Vernon Barrange, and others, have made an immense contribution.”
He said that Joffe contributed a written piece for Kathrada’s book on his Robben Island visits, Triumph of the Human Spirit.
Anant Singh, the film producer on the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom described Joffe as a “remarkable human being and a brillian legal mind”. He said that Joffe’s book The State vs Nelson Mandela, was an “invaluable resource” for him while developing the script for the movie.
“I had the pleasure to meet Lord Joffe with Ahmed Kathrada in London two years ago. He was very special man who was committed to the anti-apartheid struggle remained committed to the cause of justice in South Africa and around the world,” Singh said.
“Our love and prayers go out to his family as we celebrate him as an exceptional human being.”
– African News Agency (ANA)