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Johannesburg - Former chief justice Pius Langa was a gentle giant, a brilliant jurist and a principled and modest man, Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu said on Tuesday.
“I personally got to know him as a person with a sharp and brilliant mind and a keen sense of humour,” he said in Johannesburg at a special sitting at the Constitutional Court.
“He made such a significant contribution to our country that it is not surprising that so much praise has been attributed to Pius.”
Sisulu regarded Langa as his older brother, through a friendship with Langa's younger brothers.
He said Langa was a great listener, who chose his words carefully.
“Pius lived up to his name. He was Pius by name, but also truly pious in life.”
Langa exhibited great love for his people and used law to make his greatest contribution to uplift and protect the oppressed.
“During the apartheid era, his legal practice reflected his deep-seated conviction to protect the oppressed from a brutal system that used the law as a sword to cut down the rights and freedom of its people,” said Sisulu.
“Again during the transition to democracy, Pius played a key role in shaping our constitutional dispensation.”
Langa died on July 24 at the age of 74 after a month-long hospital stay due to a long illness.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng thanked the Langa family for sharing him with the world.
“You had a precious gift. Thank you for sharing that with the world... even in circumstances where his health was fading.”
Mogoeng said the judiciary would never betray Langa's legacy, and was working on communicating more effectively with South Africans, possibly through social networking sites.