Message by Nelson Mandela on passing away of Dullah Omar

1 March 2004

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of our beloved comrade, Dullah Omar. Our condolences go to Farieda and the children during these times of bereavement and loss. I went to visit Dullah in hospital on Wednesday and explained to his family that if the time had come for us to say goodbye, we would know for sure that Dullah has done his duty to his country and his people. We trust that they shall take some solace from the sure knowledge that he is mourned by so many from all walks of life, backgrounds and political persuasions.

I came to know Dullah Omar when I was on Robben Island and he visited us a lawyer. He was not a member of the African National Congress at the time, but that made no difference to his commitment and his caring for us. Dullah was a lawyer of the people, a human rights lawyer in the truest meaning of the word.

He was to become the first Minister of Justice in democratic South Africa, a position that he held with distinction, earning the respect of all. It was under his custodianship that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came about. He set about with customary resolve to transform the justice system, making it fundamentally people friendly.

Dullah was not just an exceptional lawyer. He and his wife, Farieda, became a pillar of strength to all our families during our incarceration, assisting us in various ways and keeping us together.

Dullah Omar has distinguished himself over many years as a true leader, progressive in thinking, realising the importance of education, justice and a free society. A humbler, more committed, more decent person you could not wish to find.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this time of bereavement.

Hamba Kahle Dullah!

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation