lobby group honours Nokwe

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki are set to meet in the chambers of the Duma Nokwe Group of Advocates in Sandton tomorrow.

The lobby group will unveil a bust of Johannesburg's first black advocate, the late lawyer and politician Duma Nokwe.

Nokwe qualified as the first black advocate in the then supreme court of Transvaal in 1995. But he never practiced because apartheid laws banned him from having an office in Johannesburg's then whites-only city centre.

Supreme court rules then demanded that all advocates have offices close to the courts, so it was impossible for Nokwe to practice law from a township office.

Before his death in Zambia in 1978, Nokwe was one of the accused in the Treason Trial. He was also a former general secretary of the ANC Youth League and an ANC National Executive Committee member.

In 1974 Nokwe spoke on behalf of the ANC at the UN Security Council in New York, where he elaborated on the roles the Great Trek and Cecil John Rhodes had played in enslaving Black South Africans.

He urged the UN to expel South Africa as a member state.

"We would like to have a symbol to inspire us to struggle for what Nokwe struggled for: access to justice for all," said senior advocate Mxolisi Mtshaulana.

Zuma's spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, confirmed Zuma would attend the event.

Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga, could not be reached, but it is understood that Mbeki has confirmed his attendance.