My moment with a legend, as captured in the photograph, reflects an animated discussion between Madiba and I. Madiba said, “Hi, Essa, what was the outcome of our court cases?” I responded, “We won both cases! He retorted, in a vindicated mood, =“Good done, my friend! Good done! Thank you! Thank you, my comrade!”
The occasion was a mass election rally organised by the African National Congress (ANC) in Retreat/Steenberg. The meeting was hosted by Dr Allan Boesak, the ANC premier designate for the Western Cape and the guest speaker was Nelson Mandela.
I was the ANC provincial party agent entrusted with the task of helping to ensure that the first democratic elections of South Africa on 27 April 1994 were free and fair. Madiba had repeatedly appealed to members of the ANC to respect the right of all political parties to canvas freely in all areas.
The first case arose from the publication by The Nationalist Party (NP) of an election photo/comic magazine entitled: Winde van verandering waai deur Suid Afrika. The ANC complained that the publication was designed to create friction between the Coloured and African communities and the NP was guilty of conducting a swart gevaar (black danger) campaign. The Electoral Tribunal found that there were racist undertones in the publication and such racism lent substance to the specific complaint. The Tribunal granted an interdict prohibiting the NP from distributing the magazine.
The second case arose from the publication in the Cape Times of a report by Mr Hennie Bester of the Democratic Party (DP) that Mr Nelson Mandela, at a recent meeting in Nyanga had encouraged his supporters to drive white parties out of the townships.The Tribunal found that the statement was made irresponsibly and was false. It ordered the DP and Mr Bester to publish a correction in the Cape Times and apologise to Mr Nelson Mandela. This case was argued by Advocate Dullah Omar who became the Minister of Justice in the Madiba cabinet.
The photograph captures, in the background the smiling face of Dullah’s spouse, Farida Omar. To her right is Shiraz Moosa, my son, with a stern face. He was one of the ANC VIP Protection Team that provided security for Madiba. To the left of Farida, is Zollie Malindi, a veteran of the struggle, an anti-apartheid activist and a leading member and founder of UDF. The face partially obscured by the flag, is Kader Asmal, a constitutional lawyer and founder of the anti-apartheid movement. He went on to become the Minister of Water Affairs in the Madiba Cabinet.