Have Bram Fischer's ideas lost relevance? asks Mogoeng
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questioned on Thursday whether that which anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer had fought and died for had lost relevance to SA and her people.
Mogoeng was addressing the 10th annual Bram Fischer Lecture at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.
Fischer‚ a key figure in the anti-apartheid movement‚ was the lead defence advocate in the Rivonia trial‚ where a number of anti-apartheid activists including Nelson Mandela were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Fischer was arrested in 1965 and put on trial on charges of furthering the aim of communism.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966. In April 1975‚ he was placed under house arrest at his brother’s home as he was seriously ill. He died a few weeks later.
Mogoeng said on occasions when there was a lecture about a person‚ he believed those occasions challenged the speaker and audience to reflect on what that life said to them and what that life required them to do.
Mogoeng said the challenge for everyone was what choice they made or what choices they were making.
“Is it friendship with those who have the capacity to make you wealthy or give you positions‚ or is it a noble cause similar to that which was followed by Bram Fischer?”
Mogoeng said this was the question that every black and white South African must answer and answer honestly.
“Why is it that so many years after Bram Fischer had discovered this truth that there really isn’t any fundamental difference between a black and a white man‚ a man and woman - but colour and gender - that we still find it possible to keep in our boots or the backseats of our vehicles cricket bats so that if a person of a particular race drives in a manner that I disapprove of‚ I can bash his or her head. Whether death ensues or madness ensues‚ is none of my business.”
Mogoeng said a statement Fischer made from the dock during his trial was that he was not only concerned about racial discrimination.
He was also concerned about the landlessness of the indigenous people of this country as well as exclusivity in relation to the meaningful participation in the economy of this country.
“He wanted both black and white South Africans to come together and find a solution that will ensure that we all‚ not some‚ benefit‚” Mogoeng said.
Mogoeng asked the audience whether it ever thought about the multitudes that were homeless - or was it all about a person and their families.
“Have we fallen so much in love with money and power and positions and fame and prestige that human life and human suffering does not matter anymore?
“Has that which Bram Fischer fought and died for lost relevance to South Africa and her people‚” Mogoeng asked.