|The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) has received the news of the untimely death of the recently retired Judge George Sammy Shane Maluleke with a heavy heart. The BLA is deeply saddened by this great loss but immediately finds comfort on the fact that his was not a meaningless life, but a life well lived and beneficial to his people.
Judge Maluleke was one of the founding members of the BLA when it was established in 1977. BLA was established about 4 years after Judge Maluleke had been admitted as an attorney in 1973. After admission, Judge Maluleke soon realised the harsh injustices of apartheid towards black lawyers of his time and joined forces with the already seasoned lawyers like Godfrey Pitje and established the BLA.
Judge Maluleke started his legal profession at Henry Dolowitz attorneys as a candidate attorney and later as a Professional Assistant. Very early in his legal career Judge Maluleke found himself doing criminal cases for victims of apartheid evil laws. He found himself in and out of police stations and courts throughout the entire country doing bail applications and cases of political prisoners. This immediately defined him as a human rights lawyer. As an attorney he handled the cases of his clients with respect, diligence, care and compassion as he knew the humiliation which came as a result of racism and racial discrimination experienced by his clients on daily basis.
Judge Maluleke was a strong believer in personal professional improvement through education. He actively participated in the establishment of the BLA Legal Education Center (BLA-LEC), the institution he also led as its Chairperson for about 15 years. Through the BLA LEC the BLA became a very strong formation as it focused in the development of all black legal practitioners. The LEC came about as a response to the Law Societies’ lack of focus in the development of black legal practitioners. The LEC proved that with determination and a plan, black legal practitioners are able to determine their own achievements. The LEC did not only offer its services to black legal practitioners but also to white legal practitioners as Judge Maluleke and other visionaries like him knew that the South African legal system can only be strong if both black and white lawyers share the same worldview on what constitutes a just legal system.
Judge Maluleke, in his passion for Continuous Legal Education, also served as member of the Standing Committee of Education of the Law Society of South Africa. Judge Maluleke served as the Chairperson of the Legal “I”, a pro bono project of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. Among the many projects he served on Judge Maluleke served as the chairperson of the Legal Aid Board of South Africa and also on various commissions of inquiries.
Judge Maluleke accepted a call to the Bench because he believed in the transformed judiciary. As a litigator, Judge Maluleke had experience of what it is like to be a black litigant and legal practitioner in a white man’s court. He wanted to give sense of ownership and legitimacy of the judiciary to the black masses of this country as they would receive justice from their own people. He contributed immensely to the building of the independent, fearless judiciary which is accountable to the Constitution and the People of South Africa. The judiciary among other things, derives its respect from the caliber of the judges who are on the Bench. If judges are of suspect quality it affects the outlook of the judiciary. The good character of Judge Maluleke helped in painting the SA judiciary in good light. We thank judges like Judge Maluleke that SA judiciary commands such respect in the world. Its independence and respect for the rule of law gives us pride as a nation.
BLA sends its sincere condolences to his wife, children, relatives, friends and colleagues of Judge Maluleke as well as the entire BLA membership.