Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
20 December 2011

Chief Justice on passing of JP Fikile Bam

MEDIA STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF JUDGE PRESIDENT FIKILE BAM 

19 December 2011

Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng today expressed his deep sadness at the passing of Land Claims Court Judge President Fikile Bam at the weekend; following a long battle with cancer.

Paying tribute to Judge President Bam, Chief Justice Mogoeng said: “Judge President Bam’s passing marks the end of an illustrious legal career that was characterised by a selfless and tireless service in the defence of the marginalised in the country.

“As the Judicial Community we have lost not only a colleague and a friend; but one of the most widely respected leaders in the legal fraternity who left an indelible mark in our quest to right the wrongs of the past in relation to land restitution.

“Indeed, his scholarly prowess was unparalleled. On behalf of the South African Judiciary; may I take this opportunity to offer my sincerest condolences to his wife Xoliswa, his children and grandchildren and may they find strength during these trying times,” said Chief Justice Mogoeng.

At the time of his passing, ‘Bro Fiks’ – as he was affectionately known – had served as the Judge President of the Land Claims Court for 15 years – the longest serving judicial officer in this capacity.

“The national leadership of the Judiciary will sorely miss his sharp intellect, maturity and wealth of experience together with his calmness and rich sense of humour. Bro Fiks was a personification of an in-exhaustible fountain of diplomacy and a well of wisdom from which the leadership of the Judiciary always drew when faced with serious national issues.

“His departure has left a vacuum at the Land Claims Court and especially in the forum of Heads of Courts which will be difficult to fill,” added Chief Justice Mogoeng.

Born In Tsolo in the Eastern Cape on 18 July 1937; Judge President Bam graduated with a BA (law) degree from the University of Cape Town in 1960 after which he went on to obtain the B Proc and LLB degrees from the University of South Africa in the mid 70s.

He was admitted as an attorney of the Republic of South Africa and the Supreme Court of Transkei in 1978. A tireless human rights activist, Judge President Bam was also imprisoned at various times in his life and spent time on Robben Island between 1965 and 1975. He joined the Johannesburg Bar Council in 1979 and was deported to the Transkei where he practiced as an advocate between 1980 and 1985.

In September 1985 he was appointed as a Director of the newly established Legal Resources Centre in Port Elizabeth and was subsequently admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in November 1985.

He sat on the Goldstone Commission during 1992 and 1993 and became a partner at Deneys Reitz, one of the biggest law firms in the country, between March 1994 and December 1995 where he concentrated on constitutional law litigation. He was also appointed as a member of the first democratic SABC Board in 1993.

Ends.

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