Dulah Omar


South African human-rights lawyer and anti-apartheid activist. Dullah Omar was the spokesman for Nelson Mandela in the months leading to his 1990 release from prison and a part of the African National Congress team in the negotiations for the end of the white rule in South Africa. Omar became Justice Minister after South Africa's 1994 all-race elections. Omar piloted legislation to abolish a myriad of oppressive racial statues. He introduced the non-racial democratic constitution, which included a historic bill of rights. He then set about reforming the racially skewed judicial system, seeking to make the male, white-dominated judiciary more representative of the South African population, without undermining the high standards and independence of the bench. He put through legislation abolishing the death penalty. Omar oversaw the creation of the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose work became the benchmark for societies emerging from tyranny in other parts of the world. Omar set up a national prosecuting service, facing a rising crime rate, and established an elite, FBI-style organisation, known as the Scorpions, to deal with organised crime. Omar had established a distinguished record as a lawyer, long before he assumed government office, and defended the poor and oppressed. He opened his own legal practice in 1960. He was called to the bar in 1982, and became a prominent defence counsel in a series of political trials. Dullah Omar remained South Africa's Transport Minister from 1999 until his death due to cancer in Cape Town. A quiet-mannered, serious-minded and exceptionally hardworking administrator, Omar was awarded a state funeral. Abdullah Muhammad Omar was born in the Cape Town, one of 11 children. A prominent anti-apartheid activist, and was imprisoned without trial three times and the regime tried twice to murder him.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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