It is with deep sorrow and regret that the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) learns of the death of human rights lawyer Judge Bonisile Sandi. Judge Sandi was Judge of the High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, Grahamstown. He succumbed to a two year illness on the 2nd of March 2017 in his home in Grahamstown at the age of 62.
Judge Sandi was one of NADEL’s founding members. He believed strongly in organized profession, the capacitation of young black professionals and in transferring of skills. He played a valuable role in shaping the strategic direction of NADEL which led NADEL to a position where it was able to influence not only the constitutional/ legislative process but the creation of institutions of our democracy.
During his early years he practiced as an attorney in Grahmstown where he ran the busiest black correspondent firm at the time. All firms in the Region would utilize his office when they litigated in Grahamstown. Those who used him as a correspondent say that he went beyond what was expected of him as a corresponded and used the opportunity to pass his knowledge to practitioners. As an attorney he was a cut above the rest and the epitome of an activist attorney (bold, Intelligent and inexorable in his defence of his clients, especially those oppressed by the Apartheid regime).
During his time of practice he was considered a gateway to the profession as almost all of the black professionals in the Grahamstown region were admitted to the profession through his office at no cost. During a time when black law firms had little resources and no support he had trained a number candidate attorneys who are now thriving Attorneys. He had a passion for transformation of the legal profession and went to great lengths to ensure that he trained as many women lawyers as possible.
It was because of his high level skills, commitment to the people of South Africa, transformed and independent mind that NADEL nominated him to the Bench. He was amongst the first black judges to be appointed to the bench in the Eastern Cape Division.
As a judge he served with excellence and distinction. Those who have had the pleasure to appear before him will testify that he was courteous in dealing with all who appeared before him. He encourage practitioners to be presentable and to produce quality legal documents.
Those who have worked with him, both in practice and on the bench, applaud him for his fervent work ethic, compassion and high level skills. He was a humble soul with a deep commitment to the uplift of the people of our country. He served the judiciary and the people of South Africa with distinction.
We share our deepest and most sincere condolences to his family, the Judiciary and the people of South Africa as a whole. We are honoured to have been blessed with his life and wish him eternal rest. His death comes as a huge blow to NADEL especially at a time when it celebrates its 30 years of existence. When we look back at where we come from we realise the huge debt we owe Judge Sandi and undertake to continue the revolution and to strive even harder towards the realisation of Justice and equality for all people both nationally and internationally. “Hamba kahle qhawe lesizwe’ -farewell hero of the Nation.
By: Memory Sosibo
Publicity Secretary, NADEL Executive Committee,
Contact: 081 710 7910