ASachsEsteemed lawyer and recipient of the Reconciliation Award from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (2010), Albie Sachs, was born in South Africa in 1935. Together with BA and LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and a PhD from the University of Sussex, Sachs also holds Honorary Doctorates from over ten universities, including the Universities of Cape Town, Edinburgh, Princeton and York.


At the age of six, during the Second World War, Sachs received a card from his father who expressed his desire that Sachs would grow up to be a soldier in the fight for liberation. A seed of activism was planted when at the age of seventeen, as a second year law student at UCT, Sachs took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Practicing as an advocate in the Cape Bar at the age of twenty-one, Sachs was tasked with defending many who faced the death sentence, under charges of racist statutes. Sachs himself was raided by the security police and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention.


In 1988 Sachs was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents. This resulted in the loss of an arm and loss of sight in one eye.


After the first democratic election in 1994, Sachs was appointed by former President Nelson Mandela to the newly established Constitutional Court, where he served for the next fifteen years.


Not only was Sachs’ book The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law winner of the Alan Paton Prize (2010), but his two offerings, The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs and Stephanie on Trial were dramatized for the Royal Shakespeare Company and filmed for the BBC.


Sachs has travelled to many countries sharing the South African experience of healing divided societies. He has also been engaged in the spheres of art and architecture.


Bibliography (Selected)

The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law, Oxford University Press, 2009

Advancing Human Rights in South Africa, Oxford University Press, 1993

The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs, David Philip, 1990

The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter, David Philip, 1990

Island in Chains, Penguin Books, 1982

Justice in South Africa, University of California Press,1974