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No party politics for Chaskalson: Bizos

Johannesburg -

Former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson did not belong to a political party, his friend and colleague advocate George Bizos SC said on Wednesday.

Arthur Chaskalson. Credit: INLSA

“There were no secrets between Arthur and me. I know he was not a member of any political party,” Bizos told mourners at Chalkalson's memorial service in Johannesburg.

He said it was incorrect to say Chaskalson secretly belonged to a political party, because this meant that important information about him was not open to the public.

“This is not the Arthur that I know.”

The SA Communist Party said earlier in the week Chaskalson was secretly a member of the party in the 1960s.

Bizos recounted his meeting Chaskalson, and becoming good friends with him during the Rivonia treason trial.

He also thanked President Jacob Zuma for respecting Chaskalson's wishes for his funeral to be “simple”.

Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC, who spoke on behalf on the General Council of the Bar, said Chaskalson would not have joined any organisations.

“In recent days there has been an attempt to claim... (that he was a part of) one grouping,” he said.

“Arthur, like (actor and comedian) Groucho Marx would never belong to a club that would have him as a member. He was over and above such things.”

Gauntlett said Chaskalson was the “truly great advocate of his time”, who had a legacy of being courteous.

“He could deflate your tyres when you were not looking, but he did so always with that grace and courtesy.”

Gauntlett said Chaskalson had not succumbed to the “trappings of power”.

“ 1/8He showed 3/8 how you can be the president of the Constitutional Court and drive what the court clerks called a Toyota 'skedonk' 1/8jalopy 3/8.”

Former chief justice Pius Langa said Chaskalson had not wavered in his pursuit of justice.

“He did not just speak, he believed in doing.”

He said the Legal Resources Centre and the Constitutional Court stood as a memorial to all he had done to fight for justice in the country.

Legal Resource Centre representative Janet Love told of Chaskalson's role in the creation of the centre, and how it defended the rights of those who were oppressed by apartheid laws. - Sapa

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