Retired Constitutional Court judge Zakeria “Zac” Mohammed Yacoob will deliver the annual Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge Memorial Lecture at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) on Monday, 8 April, at the South Campus Auditorium.
The lecture is held annually by the Faculty of Law to honour the memory of Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge and the important roles they played in the struggle to liberate South Africans from the shackles of apartheid.
Justice Yacoob was born on 3 March 1948 in Durban where he has lived for most of his life. Because of meningitis, he became blind at the age of 16 months. From 1967 to 1969, he studied for a BA at the University College, Durban majoring in English and private law and completed an LLB in 1972. While at university, he was involved with many clubs and societies, including the Law Students’ Society, the Debating Society and the Music Society.
He further helped to organise activities that culminated in the first elected Students’ Representative Council. He received LLDs (Honoris Causa) from the University of Fort Hare in May 2012 and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, in April 2011. He has attended dozens of international conferences and workshops on a variety of topics such as blindness, children and democracy.
Justice Yacoob served pupillage in Durban from March to June 1973 and practised as Junior Counsel from July 1973 to May 1991. He took silk in May 1991 and was appointed to the Constitutional Court by President Nelson Mandela on 1 February 1998 until his retirement on 31 January 2013. He served as Acting Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa from 1 February 2012 to 31 May 2012.
He is a former chairperson and executive member of the Democratic Lawyers Association, Durban from 1979 to 1984, a member of the Natal executive of the UDF from 1984 to 1985 and helped plan and execute a campaign against the institution of the tri-cameral parliament from 1983 to 1985. He served as a member of the Technical Committee on Fundamental Rights in the multiparty negotiations from April to December 1993; a Commissioner on the Independent Electoral Commission from December 1993 to June 1994; a member of the Panel of Independent Experts of the Constitutional Assembly and has also advised local-government bodies, the National Land Committee and the Department of Finance.
Griffiths Mxenge was banned and jailed on Robben Island. He was brutally murdered on 19 November 1981 and his body dumped near the Umlazi cycle track in Durban. In July 1985, four men attacked Victoria in her driveway in Umlazi.
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke held the inaugural Griffiths and Victoria Memorial Lecture and his speech was titled: “Establishing Social Consensus on the Shifting Boundaries between Judicial and Executive Functions of the State – Lessons from the Recent Past”.
The second Griffiths and Victoria Memorial Lecture was delivered by retired Constitutional Justice Albie Sachs and his address was titled: “Imperatives and Dilemmas of Transformation: A Constitutional Perspective”.
Last year Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was the speaker with the lecture titled “The Constitutional Importance of Ensuring Accountability to the Public”.
The lecture starts at 18:30 for 19:00.