Tributes continue pouring in for Priscilla Jana, a renowned human rights lawyer and anti-apartheid activist.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission passed on on Saturday.
In a statement, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) expresses shock over the news.
“South Africa has lost a giant, who sacrificed herself selflessly for us all to enjoy the fruit of the constitutional democracy that we enjoy today. As a Black female lawyer she overcame pernicious limitations imposed by the apartheid system that marginalised her on the basis of race, sex and gender and fought for the liberation of the then oppressed majority of South Africans. She continued to give of herself, well up until the age of 76, still labouring tirelessly to substantively turn South Africa into a country where all people who live in it are equal, enjoy their freedom and innate human dignity,” the commission says.
The governing ANC describes her passing as a loss to the liberation movement and the people of South Africa.
“From an early age, Jana nurtured and developed an awareness of the brutality and injustice of apartheid. She was one of the few progressive lawyers who provided free support to ANC detainees during. She became the personal attorney of former President Nelson Mandela during his incarceration on Robben Island. It has been said of Jana that “at one stage, she represented every single political prisoner on Robben Island,” the party says.
Jana presented Solomon Mahlangu in 1978 and played a vital role in putting his execution under the spotlight.
The 70’s Group, an organisation of activists from that decade that she co-founded, has hailed her as a brave, compassionate, caring lawyer and comrade.
Dr Saths Cooper on Jana’s passing:
After the democratic breakthrough of 1994, Jana served as a Member of Parliament and South African Ambassador to both the Netherlands and Ireland. She was also a former ambassador to The Hague.
She produced her biography, Fighting for Mandela, which chronicles her life of extraordinary courage and brave struggle against apartheid.
The ANC has conveyed its heartfelt condolences to her family, the mass democratic movement and the people of South Africa as a whole.
Chair of the committee on Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children has also expressed sadness over the human rights lawyer’s passing.