About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Sachs, Albert Louis (Albie)

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Justice Albie Sachs was born in Johannesburg on 30 January 1935, matriculated at the South African College School (SACS) in Cape Town in 1950, and attended the University of Cape Town, where he obtained BA and LL.B degrees. He started his practice as an Advocate at the Cape Town Bar in 1957 and worked mainly in the civil rights sphere until he was himself twice detained without trial by the Security Police.

In 1966 he went into exile in England where he completed a Ph.D at the University of Sussex (1971) and taught in the Law Faculty of the University of Southampton (1970 - 1977). He was the first Nuffield Fellow of Socio-Legal Studies, at Bedford College, London, and Wolfson College, Cambridge.

In 1977 he took up a position as Professor of Law at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique. From 1983 onwards he served as Director of Research in the Ministry of Justice. After nearly being killed by a car bomb in 1988 he returned to England.

The next year he worked as Professor at the Law School and in the Department of International Affairs at Columbia University in New York.

Later that year Judge Sachs became the founding Director of the South Africa Constitution Studies Centre, based at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. In 1992 the Centre moved to the University of the Western Cape, where he was made Professor Extraordinary. He was also appointed Honorary Professor in the Law Faculty at the University of Cape Town. He took an active part in the negotiations for a new Constitution as a member of the Constitutional Committee of the ANC and of the National Executive of that organisation.

Sachs has written many books on human rights and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Law by the Universities of Southampton, York (Toronto), Antwerp and the William Mitchell College of Law.

For a number of years he has been a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee and helped to draft the International Declaration on the Human Genome.

He has written extensively on culture, gender rights and the environment. His book The Jail Dairy of Albie Sachs was dramatised for the Royal Shakespeare Company and broadcast by the BBC. Another autobiographical book The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter which deals with his recovery from the car bomb, and eventual appointment to the Constitutional Court is presently being dramatised for film.

Source: Constitutional Court of South Africa 

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.