The law fraternity suffered another loss today with the death of Law Society of South Africa chief executive Nic Swart, just two days after veteran judge George Maluleke died.
Swart died in Gaborone, Botswana, in the early hours of this morning while attending the SADC Lawyers Association conference, the law society said. He was 63.
“The society, its council, staff and the profession have lost a colleague, a dear friend, a mentor, a leader and an innovator passionate about the legal profession in general and legal education in particular,” said the law society’s co-chairpersons David Bekker and Walid Brown.
“Our profession owes an incalculable debt of gratitude to Nic Swart.”
Swart joined the society’s predecessor, the Association of Law Societies, in 1989 to start a pilot school for legal practice.
The pilot project – with only 51 candidate attorneys – has grown since 1990 to become one of the premier legal education institutions in the country.
Swart is survived by his wife Mariette and two daughters.
Meanwhile, the Black Lawyers’ Association said it was deeply saddened by the loss of the recently retired Judge Maluleke, but added that his was a life well lived and beneficial to his people.
Maluleke was one of the founding members of the association in 1977.
“He found himself in and out of police stations and courts throughout the entire country doing bail applications and cases of political prisoners. This immediately defined him as a human rights lawyer,” the association said today.
Maluleke also served as member of the standing committee of education of the last society. He was chairperson of the Legal “I”, a pro bono project of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, as well as the chairperson of the Legal Aid Board of South Africa and served on various commissions of inquiries.
Maluleke will be laid to rest tomorrow morning at the Fourways Memorial Park.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura said yesterday that he would remember Maluleke “for his complete integrity, independence and his immense contribution towards transforming the country’s justice system”.
Maluleke was appointed a High Court Judge in 1993, having previously acted as a judge at the Venda High Court.
His contribution to the rule of law, and the development of young black minds in the discipline and practice of law, had left an indelible mark on the profession, Makhura said.