Cape Town.190707.Arthur Chaskalson accepts the Human Rights award at the Mandela Awards for Health and Human Rights 2007. Picture:Sophia Stander Reporter:John Yeld/Cape Times

Johannesburg - South Africa must honour the memory of former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson by safe-guarding democracy, Cosatu said on Sunday.

“We owe it to his memory to make sure that we never undermine the democratic foundations he laid down in his lifelong commitment to promote social justice and human rights,” Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.

Chaskalson, 81, died in Johannesburg on Saturday after battling leukaemia, according to the SABC.

Craven extended Cosatu's condolences to Chaskalson's friends and family, and said he had spent his life serving the people of South Africa.

“He used his great legal skills to advance the struggle for freedom and democracy, from his role as one of the lawyers who defended Comrade Nelson Mandela during his trial in 1993/94, through his work as head of the Legal Resource Centre from 1978 to 1993...”

Chaskalson was appointed as the first president of the Constitutional Court in 1994 and served as Chief Justice until 2005.

Tributes have poured in for Chaskalson from political parties, the legal fraternity and civil society. - Sapa