Retired Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs said he believed that democracy in South Africa was alive and well adding that in terms of constitutional democracy he would “give the country 12 out of ten”. He was also pleased that South Africans were freely expressing their minds while the media and institutions that were created to safeguard democracy are functioning well.Judge Sachs was addressing University of Zululand (UNIZULU) students, mainly from the law department, who came out in their numbers on Wednesday, 19 February to watch the screening of the film: Soft Vengeance.
The film documents Sachs from a young age and traces his journey as a young activist lawyer, and also traces his years in exile during which lost an arm during an apartheid state sponsored attack and documents his role as one of the brains behind the South African constitution and the Bill of Rights. At the end of the screening Judge Sachs and film producer Abby Ginzberg got a standing ovation from the students who were clearly impressed by the movie. It was after the screening of the film that the students who had packed the theatre at the Creative Arts Department got a chance to engage with the liberation stalwart.Speaking about the film, Judge Sachs said it was not only about him as it also told the story about the roles played by others.
While Sachs has in some circles been labelled as the one of the fathers of the South African Constitution he boldly says that former ANC president Oliver Tambo was really the one who should be considered the father of the constitution. Tambo, Judge Sachs says, was the one who insisted that the constitution should not be about protecting either the minority or the majority but everyone as citizens. “Indirectly this film enables that story to come through,” he said. Most of the students who watched the film admitted that before the screening they never knew about other liberation stalwarts such as those featured in the film. Ginzberg said the challenge for her when making the documentary was how to place the story of Judge Sachs within the broader story of liberation. Ginzberg thanked the audience saying it was a wonderful audience. The film is to be screened at other universities in South Africa.