President Cyril Ramaphosa has labelled celebrated human rights lawyer Priscilla Jana a human rights icon, saying she had formidable legal intellect.
Jana, who was also the SA Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) deputy chairperson, died on Saturday aged 76.
“Jana was an outstanding and fearless human rights lawyer who devoted her practice to fighting the apartheid regime, defending a broad range of struggle leaders and asserting the rights of marginalised South Africans,” Ramaphosa said.
He extended his condolences to her family and friends as well as the leadership and staff of the SAHRC.
Jana was a former MP and South African Ambassador to the Netherlands and Ireland.
“Our nation and our legal fraternity has lost a champion of the struggle we waged for justice, freedom and democracy,” said Ramaphosa.
He added she belonged among some of South Africa’s greatest icons.
“Priscilla Jana was at the side of Solomon Mahlangu, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many other leaders as they waged their fight for freedom on our streets and in the courts of the unjust apartheid legal system.”
Ramaphosa said she helped focus global attention on apartheid South Africa “and went on to fly the flag of a free and democratic South Africa by representing our country in the Netherlands and Ireland”.
“We will always be indebted to Priscilla Jana for her contribution to our freedom and for her championing of equality and of the causes of vulnerable South Africans in our democratic dispensation.
“May her soul rest in peace at the end of the extraordinary life she has led in service to our nation.”