Judge Siraj Desai, a giant with juristic integrity

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Judge Desai taught by example, that courage, hard work, and personal convictions are indispensable character traits. He earnestly believes that we must ensure justice and equality more real for those still partially in the chains of deprivation, powerlessness and poverty.

Retired Western Cape judge, Siraj Desai, has been appointed Legal Services Ombudsman. Siraj belongs to that small fraternity and sorority of black judges who changed the landscape of South Africa. His work over 25 years helped shape the legal and academic dialogue regarding race, law and society.

Judge Desai’s qualities and opinions are immense, the exposition is clear, and often eloquent, his tone is measured, and legal analysis is meticulous. The thoroughness of intellectual assessment bespeaks several admirable qualities, mastery of doctrine, an awareness of subtleties, a belief in the law’s capacities to solve problems, and a desire to place legal results in context.

His new appointment will serve to remind many of a legal colossus, who will have an impact on South African society. He is a most distinguished judge, whose erudite judgments, especially at historic moments in South Africa, are indelible and irrefutable proof of this learned jurist’s measure.

Desai taught by example, that courage, hard work, and personal convictions are indispensable character traits. He earnestly believes that we must ensure justice and equality more real for those still partially in the chains of deprivation, powerlessness and poverty.

Desai survived and rose above racism to achieve legal and scholarly excellence. He always stood on the side of truth and justice. He is fearless and would always speak truth to power. No word is enough to describe him. He was an epitome of justice.

The jurisprudence he advanced at all times was already consonant with the democratic constitutional principles currently being nurtured.

The manner in which the court under the leadership of Judge Desai accepted its duty to judge, come to grips with issues, and render its far-reaching decisions, provides an imperishable lustre to the judge and to the court which he served.

We are proud of his impeccable service to humanity, His illustrious duty on the bench is filled with courage, integrity, fairness and grace, worth an unfailing instinct to be right about the great issues of our time, A polite and humble jurist who towered above the crowd as a gentle giant.

By Farouk Araie.