SOUTH Africa’s new democratic government limited land claims to injustices that occurred not earlier than 1912, not only because of the introduction of the notorious Natives Land Act at that time, but to avoid reviving massive conflicts between ethnic groups.
This was revealed by former Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs, who addressed a packed auditorium at the NMMU south campus last night.
Sachs was the guest speaker at a Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (Canrad) interactive film-screening event.
The film, Soft Vengeance, covers his involvement in the fight against apartheid and role in drawing up South Africa’s constitution.
Sachs was accompanied by the director of the film, California-based Abby Ginzberg.
The film received a standing ovation from the law students, university lecturers and newly elected Student Representative Council members. It features Sachs’s life of activism as well as other prominent struggle figures, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and current Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Strikingly, the film opens with graphic footage of the immediate aftermath of the car bombing in Maputo, Mozambique, in which Sachs lost most of his right arm and incurred other serious injuries.
Following the screening, Sachs answered questions related to the constitution.
Addressing the land issue, he said “no-one can arbitrarily be deprived of their property”.
When asked whether he would ever support the death penalty after “all he had been through”, Sachs was emphatic in saying he did not support capital punishment.
“The death penalty means a total loss of respect and reverence for life,” he said, adding that it was still cold-blooded murder when it was implemented by the state. Studies had shown it was not an effective crime deterrent.