Bram Fischer reinstated on Roll

Anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer was reinstated to the Roll of Advocates on Thursday by a full Bench of the Johannesburg High Court.

General Council of the Bar chairperson Willem van der Linde said the ruling was unique in that the court was composed of judges who, by virtue of their race or gender, would not have been appointed in the days when Fischer was active. Sitting were Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, sitting with Judge Surietta Snyders and Judge Nathan Ponan.

Fischer was welcomed back into the fraternity through the Reinstatement of Enrolment of Deceased Legal Practitioners Act, also called the “Bram Fischer Act”, which was passed on November 6 last year to allow for the posthumous reinstatement of practitioners involved in the fight against apartheid.

His was the first case to be heard in terms of the act.

As a Queen’s Counsel, Fischer led the defence in a number of political trials, including the Treason Trial of 1956 to 1960 and the Rivonia Trial in 1963-4. He died in 1975.

Van der Linde said the application had been brought by Fischer’s daughter, Ruth and Ilse, but only Isle was in court to hear the historic ruling.

Fischer, who was also a former Communist Party leader, was struck off the roll in 1965 for conduct “unbefitting a member of the Bar and the Society” after he skipped bail during his trial on charges of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950.—Sapa

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