Justice Langa was a servant of the people – Zuma
4 August 2013
Durban – The late Chief Justice Pius Langa was an activist lawyer who understood that law could not be practised in a vacuum in a society that was in bondage, President Jacob Zuma said today.
“We have lost a patriot, a freedom fighter and an accomplished jurist who dedicated his life to making South Africa a better place for all, especially the poor and downtrodden,” Zuma said.
Zuma was delivering a eulogy at the special official funeral service of Langa held at the Durban City Hall on Saturday.
The President said Langa was politically advanced enough to know that he could not be neutral in the struggle to free himself, his people and his country.
“Being an activist at heart, this [Justice Langa] saw the bench as another site of struggle. He championed transformation, espousing the notion of transformative constitutionalism. He then put his legal expertise to good use, to rid this country of institutionalised racism and apartheid colonialism,” he said.
Langa, according to the President, remained grounded in communities and helped establish civic organizations, residents' associations and also created platforms which provided the much needed guidance to the youth.
This activist lawyer, Zuma said, pursued freedom and justice, and became a founding member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and served as its president from 1988 until 1994.
Langa was also actively involved in the structures of the United Democratic Front and was a founding member of the Release Mandela Committee in the former Natal and other regional and national committees formed to accelerate and prepare for the release of political prisoners.
Later, Langa became a member of the ANC Constitutional Committee and became involved in the CODESA negotiations towards a democratic South Africa. He also played a pivotal advisory role during the Groote Schuur and Pretoria Minute processes.
Zuma said all these developments contributed immensely to pushing forward the march towards freedom and democracy in the country.
The President said given Langa’s expertise and accomplishments in both the struggle for liberation and professionally, “it was not surprising that former President Nelson Mandela appointed him, together with 10 other judges, to serve in the then newly-established Constitutional Court of South Africa at the dawn of freedom and democracy”.
“It was also not surprising that this humble jurist later became Deputy Chief Justice and later Chief Justice of the Republic,” he said.
In his message, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said: “We will never betray the legacy of Justice Langa because it underscores the independence of our justice system. He was a father and mentor to many other jurists, including myself.”
Mogoeng said Langa believed quite correctly that no judicial officer should be beholden to the executive, Parliament and opposition parties. Under his watch, he introduced many systems to enhance the efficiency of the judiciary.
Speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu described Langa as a person with a gentle demeanour, humble and unassuming, “a remarkable man full of warmth and generosity of spirit”.
Speaking on behalf of friends, Advocate Marumo Moerane said Langa was “incorruptible, honest and principled”. Moerane said Langa had a calm temperament, a dry sense of humour, infectious laughter and a quiet dignity.
Langa died in hospital on 24 July after a long illness. - SAnews.gov.za