Intellectual, leader, activist: UWC mourns the passing of Judge Essa Moosa
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is saddened by the news of the passing of Judge Essa Moosa, one of South Africa’s most celebrated human rights activists, who passed away peacefully at his family home on Sunday morning (26 February 2017).
Judge Moosa served on UWC’s Board of Trustees for over 20 years, providing inspiring leadership and moral fortitude. And on 20 September 2012, the University was honoured to award him an Honorary Doctorate of Law for his contribution to human rights and to the struggle for democracy, freedom, equality and dignity in South Africa and abroad.
UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius said he will always be grateful for the vital role Judge Moosa played at the University and beyond.
“Judge Moosa was one of the great pillars of this institution – a man of integrity and courage who believed strongly in human dignity and equality, and who wasn’t afraid to share that belief,” he said. “We will remember him for his many contributions to this University and this country, for his role in helping to craft our current constitution and as a community leader. He will be dearly missed.”
A Powerful Legal Legacy
Essa Moosa was born on 6 February 1936 in District Six, Cape Town. He qualified as a lawyer and was admitted to practice as such by the High Court of South Africa on 1 June 1962, launching a long and celebrated career as a human rights lawyer, challenging apartheid violations and helping to forge a fairer system of justice in the post-apartheid environment as a Judge of the High Court of the Supreme Court.
He served as a founder executive member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, as chair of the Western Cape Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress, and as member of the Ministry of Justice Coordinating Committee that spearheaded community participation as lay assessors in the magistrate’s courts. He leant his skills and passion to the civic community as president of the Surrey Estate, Primrose Park, Greenhaven and Portavue civic associations. And his activism was not limited to South Africa: he served on the Board of Directors of the European Union Turkish Civic Commission (EUTCC), and as Chairperson of the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (IPRI), and the Kurdish Human Right Action Group (KHRAG) based in Cape Town.
“A legal mind like Judge Essa Moosa’s comes along once in a generation,” noted Prof Bernard Martin, Dean of UWC’s Faculty of Law. “And when that mind is married to passionate conviction about human rights, and the strength to fight for those who lack the power to fight for themselves, great things become possible. Judge Moosa has left a legacy that will live on in the hearts and minds of the many he helped – and the many who will continue to be helped by his works.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Moosa family during this difficult time.