South Africans woke up to the sad news of the passing of Joel Joffe, who is one of those who defended the nation’s struggle heroes at the Rivonia Trial in the 1960s
Joffe died earlier this week at his home in Liddington, England at the age of 85.
He was part of the defence team that represented struggle heroes including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi.
The nine Rivonia Trial accused praised his courage, describing Joffe as “the general behind the scenes of our defence”.
He and his family were forced to leave South Africa for England, where he later became a member of the House of Lords.
Several former struggle icons’ foundations, as well as President Jacob Zuma, expressed their condolences to his family and mourners.
Zuma said on Tuesday that Lord Joffe played a critical role in the liberation struggle of the country.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Zaakirah Vadi said it took a great deal of bravery and conviction to defend anti-apartheid activists in the 1960s.
“He made an immense contribution to our democracy at that particular point in time.”Film producer Anant Singh said Joffe was a remarkable human being and a brilliant legal mind.
He said Joffe’s book, The State vs Nelson Mandela, was an invaluable resource while he was developing the script for the film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
“Our love and prayers go out to his family as we celebrate him as an exceptional human being,” Singh said.Wits University also said it mourned the passing of one of its most distinguished graduates.
In honour of Joffe, the flag flew at half-mast at the university yesterday.