Justice Zak Yacoob's life journey and his lifelong dedication to social justice

Friday Stand In Melanie Verwoerd, speaks to Justice Zak Yacoob, a man who dedicated his life to fighting apartheid and injustice in South Africa.

He talks about his work in the Constitutional Assembly, and speaks out about the need for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Although Yacoob retired in 2012, he is highly respected as a man who contributed enormously to the justice system of this country.

At his farewell ceremony, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng described Zac Yakoob as one of South Africa’s treasured blessings saying he defied all odds, stereotypes and prejudices.

Justice Yacoob described his struggles with his schooling as a blind Indian child growing up in apartheid South Africa.

He attended Durban's Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind from 1956 to 1966 and he says if he was an African (Black) child he wouldn’t have gotten formal education because of how things were done by the apartheid regime.

It was difficult in the sense that I had to get people to read things to me and I had to record all my lectures… it did take long hours.

Justice Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court

While at University doing his LLB, Justice Yacoob says he was recruited to join the underground structures of the ANC. He was admitted to the Bar in 1973 and got to work on a lot of ANC cases.

Listen to the full conversation below:

I was instructed not to show my true allegience. My instructions were to look like an above ground commercial lawyer and nothing more. My life was full of third party insurance cases …

Justice Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court

Yacoob served on the Independent Electoral Commission from December 1993 to June 1994. He says at that time he was told Nelson Mandela wanted to see him.

He said boy, I wanted to see you because I wanted to tell you that I know you are a committed member of the ANC, but when you are on the commission, my instructions to you are that you must not take our side. And that for me was wonderful.

Justice Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court

He said he wanted me but not to take the part of the ANC,but rely on my capacity to be independent

Justice Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court

On the Nkadla saga, Justice Yacoob says he would have been surprised if the judgement on Nkandla went any other way.

It is quite obvious that the Public Protector’s order had to be obeyed

Justice Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court

It was quite obvious that the president had to know what was going on in his own house and I thought the judgement was too gentle

Justice Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court

This article first appeared on 702 : Justice Zak Yacoob's life journey and his lifelong dedication to social justice


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