The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is saddened at the passing of Port Elizabeth attorney and former LSSA Co-chairperson, Silas Nkanunu, on 6 November 2020 at the age of 87.
Mr Nkanunu was admitted as an attorney in 1977 and practiced at Nkanunu and Loggerenberg. He served as LSSA Co-chairperson in 2001, 2002 and 2004.
‘Silas played a crucial and prominent role in the discussions between 1996 and 1998 which brought the Black Lawyers Association and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) together with the four provincial law societies to embark on the transformation of the profession. He was one of the signatories, on behalf of NADEL, of which he was president, to the LSSA’s constitution and was present at the launch of the LSSA in Parliament in March 1998,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.
Mr Notyesi adds: ‘His commitment to transformation was also evidenced by his inclusion in the delegation representing the attorneys’ profession in the initial talks with the Justice Minister concerning the Legal Practice Act. Mr Nkanunu also represented the attorneys’ profession on the Judicial Service Commission. He was also one of the founding members of NADEL and is one of NADEL’s longest members.’
Members of the LSSA’s House of Constituents who had the honour of working closely with Mr Nkanunu described him as a committed activist, patriot and a leading light in the community, adding that he always had the best interests of the profession at heart and was a straight forward man of his word. They go on to describe him as a true giant of the profession, a great leader and friend. ‘…his direct, incisive and humorous contributions to our many debates will be fondly remembered,’ they added.
‘He was a wonderful human being with a kind heart and dedicated his life to the profession’, says Mr Notyesi.
Nicknamed as the ‘Mandela of South African rugby’, Mr Nkanunu was the first black president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), a position he held from September 1998 to the end of 2003.
Mr Notyesi says: ‘The LSSA echoes the words of the current SARU President, Mark Alexander, that Silas was a ‘builder of bridges’. His commitment to transformation was also evidenced by his work as a human rights lawyer. He was also a leading member of the South African Council on Sport which was the non-racial sports body during Apartheid.’
As we acknowledge Mr Nkanunu’s contribution to the profession, we also acknowledge the immense loss to his colleagues, friends and mostly to his wife, Pinkie, his children, and his family. The LSSA expresses its deepest condolences. May his soul rest in peace.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344