South Africa

Fisher honoured by Wits university

Bram Fischer, the Afrikaaner lawyer who fought for justice during the apartheid struggle, was awarded a posthumous Honorary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Witwatersrand (WITS) on Thursday, Eye Witness News report.

Lord Joel Joffe, who worked with Fischer during the Rivonia trial, paid tribute to Fischer during his address to law graduates. He said “law is about justice, which appears often to be overlooked by some lawyers in running their practices. Inherent in the honourable profession of law, should surely be a commitment to justice, and to use the law to achieve justice, both for those who can afford to pay, and for those who cannot.”

Joffe continued, “South Africa is blessed with having the best Constitution in the world protecting a wide range of human rights, not only economic but also social. This opens up opportunities for lawyers to undertake work which will be to the benefit of society as a whole, as well to their own clients.”

African leaders of the time spoke highly of Fischer, and his contribution to the struggle:

Steve Biko, leader of the Black Conscious Movement, stated that he had “one hero among whites and that was Bram”.

The late President Nelson Mandela said of him, “As an Afrikaner whose conscience forced him to reject his own heritage and be ostracised by his own people, he showed a level of courage and sacrifice that was a class by itself. No matter what I suffered in my pursuit of freedom, I always took strength from the fact that I was fighting with and for my own people. Bram was a free man who fought against his own people to ensure the freedom of others”.

The doctorate was received on his behalf by his daughter, Ruth Rice, during a graduation ceremony for Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management.