Cape Town - Former Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs described Nelson Mandela as a man who lived a life of integrity.

Sachs recently delivered the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture which was hosted by the Robben Island Museum.

In his lecture, he also paid tribute to Albertina Sisulu who would also have turned a 100 this year. The anti-apartheid activist, who passed away in 2011, was married to Walter Sisulu.

Sachs said he was proud to be part of the Struggle and worked with marvellous human beings who were honest. “This year is also Albertina Sisulu’s centenary. She was a remarkable political leader with a beautiful spirit.

“Mandela was a people’s person and we will never do enough to honour his legacy. This is why we need to preserve it. We should live his wonderful legacy.”

He said South Africa’s constitution was its greatest achievement. “I remember how Kader Asmal and I drew up the first draft of the Bill of Rights for a democratic South Africa, and later we opened the Constitutional Court.”

Sachs also talked about the days of apartheid. “Cape Town had signs everywhere which said: ‘Whites Only.’ Black people could not be outside the location without a pass. At the time the majority of the people could not vote.

“It was organised racism. Eighty-seven percent of the land belonged to white people, and this included all the beautiful areas in Cape Town. Madiba and Walter Sisulu opposed this.

“I remember the first march we had when we went into a post office and sat on a ‘Whites Only’ bench.

“Millions of people adored Mandela because he was the most beautiful representation of being human,” Sachs said.

Former Robben Island political prisoner Luyanda Mpahlwa said South Africa’s democracy was established by people who made huge sacrifices.

“President Ramaphosa declared this year the year of Madiba. It’s also the year in which Ma Sisulu would have turned 100. It is because of them we enjoy this democracy. Robben Island is a place of memory and education which children need to visit.”

He recalled being taken to Robben Island in 1984. “We were put at the bottom of the boat, with no fresh air, and got sea sick; we vomited over each other."


Cape Argus