Indian-origin South African human rights lawyer dead

Johannesburg, Feb 27 (IANS) Renowned Indian-origin South African human rights lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Essa Moosa has died aged 81.

Moosa passed away on Sunday in his sleep at his home in Cape Town and was buried later in the day as per Muslim customs, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported.

“His passing is an enormous loss to South Africa of one of our seasoned human rights activists. We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Moosa family and relatives. Our prayers and thoughts are with them during this difficult period. May his soul rest in peace,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

The Presidency said Moosa will be remembered for his immense contribution in promoting and protecting human rights during his tenure as Supreme Court Judge as well as the founding and executive member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, where he chaired its Human Rights Committee.

The opposition party, Democratic Alliance (DA), expressed deep sadness at the death of Moosa. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time,” DA spokeswoman Glynnis Breytenbach said.

Moosa qualified as a lawyer in 1962. Hailing from the District Six area, he became one of the South Africa’s leading activists in the fight against apartheid and acted a number of prominent anti-apartheid activists, said the report.

He practised as an attorney until December 1997 and was appointed as a judge of the Western Cape High Court in 1998 where he served for 13 years before retiring in February 2011.

He also challenged human right violations such as detention without trial, freedom of association, expression and movement.

As the Secretary of the Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) he gave logistical support to the ANC negotiations team — led by former President Nelson Mandela — for the establishment of a democratic South Africa.