Johannesburg - Former high court judge Jan Hendrik Steyn helped create a fair legal system and promoted the Constitution, former president FW de Klerk's foundation said on Tuesday.
“Steyn made a significant and exemplary contribution to the development of a legal system based on equality before the law and the right of everyone to basic justice,” the foundation said in a statement.
Steyn, aged 85, died on Monday following an illness.
De Klerk said Steyn had supported the new constitutional dispensation and gave the foundation's Centre for Constitutional Rights advice and guidance. He said Steyn had been a “long-standing and dear” friend to him and his wife, Elita.
On Monday, Steyn's family said that despite his background of apartheid privilege, he had fought against the regime.
“Raised within the Afrikaner volk, he became a fierce opponent of apartheid, contributing towards its demise through active lobbying, working towards development for all and the creation of democracy.”
Steyn served as a judge in the Cape High Court and was president of the Appeal Court of Lesotho, and served on the Courts of Appeal of Botswana and Swaziland.
During his time as a judge he regularly visited various prisons, including those where political prisoners, including former president Nelson Mandela, were detained, interceding with the authorities for improved conditions. - Sapa