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Judiciary loses one of its best minds

I learned late yesterday of the sad news of the passing of Judge President of the Land Claims Court Fikile Bam. As the custodian of this country’s judiciary, I bemoan the loss of yet another stalwart of the struggle for liberation and a brilliant legal mind on our bench. Not only is his death a loss to his family, but to the people of this country who were looking at the court he presided on, Land Claims Court, to speedily resolve pending land claims disputes.  

Judge Bam, Born in Tsolo on 18 July 1937, dedicated most of his adult life to the legal profession as means towards his contribution to service to the citizens of this country.  His dedication to protecting the interests of the poor and marginalised through the use of law as a tool was evident when he was appointed Director of the newly established Legal Resources Centre in Port Elizabeth in September 1985. He was also appointed Acting Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Lawyers for Human Rights in 1996. Further to that he was appointed as a member of the first democratic SABC Board in 1993.

In a career spanning about 5 decades, 10 years of which he spent incarcerated in Robben Island for conspiracy to commit sabotage, some of the notable contribution that Judge Bam made include a stint as a commissioner on the Goldstone Commission during 1992 and 1993. He also acted as mediator for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the period leading to the April elections.

As the Judge President of the Land Claims Court, which he was appointed on since its inception in January 1996, he presided on high profile land claims as the Cato Manor and District six land claims. He passes on while still striving to effectively deal with the land issue in South Africa.  

As we remember his selfless contribution to the liberation of the people of this country, and his immense contribution within the legal fraternity as well as his time spend on the bench ensuring that those rights that he helped fight for are not undermined, we who are left should work hard to ensure the ideals of constitutional democracy that he held close to his heart are realised and protected. Our heartfelt condolences go to the friends and family and may they find solace in the knowledge that his was a life well lived.

Mr. Jeff Radebe, MP
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development

Tlali Tlali
082 333 880
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development

19 December 2011

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