Nadel tribute: The Honourable Judge Essa Moosa

In the peace of the Mowbray Muslim Cemetery in Cape Town, the diverse peoples of South Africa came to pay their final respects to a son of the South African soil, a comrade, an activist lawyer and a Judge. Judge Essa Moosa fought his last battle and had succumbed to cancer at the noble age of eighty- one (81). Yesterday, the 26th of February 2017, we bid farewell to a leader of our people who understood the great responsibility that history had thrust upon him. We bid farewell to a judge who was much loved, respected and adored .We bid farewell with heavy hearts, for we realised that one of the best amongst us has departed. “We have lost a person much of that to which we all aspire” proclaimed former president Thabo Mbeki at the funeral of the late Xhosa King, Xolilizwe Sigcau. In the year that NADEL will be celebrating 30(thirty) years of existence, it is with sense of guilt and regret that we bid farewell to one of its founders.

Judge Moosa stood by his people; he would not relinquish his responsibility to represent their genuine interests and never sought to seek out his own fortune. The United Democratic Front (UDF) played an immense role in his life as a lawyer and an activist. He believed and lived the motto that “UDF UNITES AND APARTHEID DIVIDES”. He understood the role of international solidarity in any struggle from his own experiences in the struggle against apartheid, racial oppression and prejudice. It is on these basis that he took an active role in the struggle of the oppressed and marginalised Kurdish people, never as an armchair revolutionary, he took active role in organising in our country and elsewhere support for the Kurdish people.

He was amongst the founder members of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) from Cape Town. These founding members of NADEL did indeed give rise to a new type of lawyer in the profession “the activist lawyer” and Judge Moosa was an exceptional example of that. He fought tirelessly for the human rights, dignity and equality of the people of South Africa. It is with pride that NADEL can say that it had amongst its ranks someone who served the people with unwavering courage and distinction. The members of NADEL like all other people of similar views salute this gallant fighter. There is indeed no grave deep enough to bury this African elephant and as such we know that there are no words that can heal the wounds of his loved ones.

Like Oliver Tambo, he too commanded the reverence and awe of his peers, whether as a lawyer or a judge, not because he demanded respect or instilled fear. He simply towered above the rest as an organiser, an accomplished intellectual, a master strategist and tactician, a source of inspiration, a force of example and a paragon of transformative virtue and revolutionary ethics. The most defining moment of selflessness was when on his death bed two days before his demise he pleaded with comrades in the Kurdish human rights organisation to carry on with the social revolution. He commanded that the poor must be fed and the struggle of the Kurdish people be intensified. Like Oliver Tambo, if there was one trait in which he stood well above the rest in his generation, it was his precision with words, saying exactly what he intended, combining inspiration even in the darkest hour, stern rebuke of injustice, and a soothing diplomacy and gentle persuasion.

Judge Essa Moosa’s departure marks the end of an era. God does not make people of his kind anymore. We are left with no mentors; no role models and we struggle to find among ourselves men and women of integrity and honour. Indeed a tragedy of South Africa a God forsaken country. Judge Moosa must allow all of us to have a piece of his being closer to our souls to nullify us and cleanse us as we had asked Solomon Mahlangu’s spirit to do because we are so afraid of our own shadows.

He was an activist lawyer who defended political detainees against the unjust Apartheid laws. He challenged the Apartheid security and emergency laws. He practised as a human rights lawyer for thirty (30) years. Amongst the battles he fought was challenging the proclamation of District 6, where he had lived, as a whites only area under the Group Areas Act.
He was the Secretary of the Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) during the period of negotiations for a democratic state.

He served briefly in the Department of Justice under Dullah Omar as the director of the planning unit to produce a strategic plan for the transformation of administrative justice in keeping with constitutional principles. This is known as Justice Vision 2000.

In 1998 President Mandela appointed him as a judge in the Cape and retired from active service in 2011. In 2013 he was appointed head of a unit for the investigation of complaints against members of the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (the Hawks).

Judge Essa Moosa was also an internationalist and took an active interest in the human rights violations against the people of Kurdistan. He created the Kurdistan Human Rights Action group to monitor human rights violations against the people of Kurdistan.

His death is a great loss to the legal profession and the country as a whole. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. They should take comfort in knowing that he has served our nation with distinction and he has earned his rest.

By: Memory Sosibo
Publicity Secretary, NADEL Executive Committee,
Contact: 081 710 7910