Courageous Rivonia trial lawyer a good friend to Nelson Mandela
Popular photographer mourned Journalist, family man and all-round good guy will be missed, write Zelda Venter and Val Boje
JOEL Joffe, the man who deferred his plans to leave South Africa in 1963 so he could help defend Nelson Mandela and the other Rivonia triallists, has died in England after a short illness. He was 85.
Joffe, who was made a life peer in 1999, becoming Baron Joffe of Liddington, left South Africa in the year after the Rivonia trial ended, and settled in Britain.
He wrote two books about the trial, The Rivonia Story, in 1995, and The State vs. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa in 2007.
Reproduced in the latter volume is a touching letter written from prison in May 1964 – just a
INDEPENDENT Media has learnt with sadness of the death of former staff member Etienne Creux. Creux worked at the Pretoria News, the company’s daily newspaper in Pretoria, as a news photographer from June 1996 until his retirement in March 2014. Prior to that he had worked as a photo-lithographer and, when the works department closed in Pretoria, in the advertising department as a photographer.
“Etienne was highly regarded and appreciated by everyone he came into contact with,” said editor Val Boje, who worked alongside Creux for 18 years.
“He was a consummate professional and cared deeply about the city, the Pretoria News, his colleagues and his family.
“He was kind and gentle, and went out of his way to be helpful, especially to new members of staff. He was well known in Pretoria and people who invited us to events would often ask if we could please send Etienne.”
He even received an award from former Tshwane mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, on behalf of the city when he retired. Ramokgopa said Creux had been an indispensable part of the city and joked: “If possible, we’d have a statue of you.”
No assignment was too big or too small for Creux, and he loved engaging with people. He was always open to learning something new and was curious about life. His photographs captured the beauty of art, and nature, and worked to tell the story.
While most knew him for his photographs, Creux was passionate about South African music and attended many festivals such as Oppikoppi, where he described himself as “the oldest rocker”. His love of motorbikes was also legendary and it was a sad day when month before being sentenced to life imprisonment – in which the Rivonia accused expressed their gratitude to Joffe.
They wrote: “When our trial started in October 1963, none of us had ever met Joel Joffe before. All we knew of him at the time was that he had cancelled plans to leave South Africa in order to take up our defence. This alone, at a time when frenzied hysteria was being whipped up against us amongst the White population of this country, assured us that he was a man of rare courage and real devotion to the cause of justice.”
They said they had come to know him “as a lawyer and a friend” who not only gave sage legal advice, but took “on himself services far his doctor advised him not to ride after an accident.
He had a wealth of experience that he was always ready to share with the clutch of young journalists he gathered around him as mentor, counsellor, and friend. But he was also always learning – such as moving from film to digital photography.
Creux was a family man and loved the three women in his life, wife Anne and daughters Nicky and beyond the call of a lawyer’s duty”, assisting “in all the personal and family problems that have beset us, as though our friendship had been long and close”.
“Nothing,” they said, “has been too much trouble for him or fallen outside his concept of a lawyer’s responsibility to his client.”
Joel Goodman Joffe was born in Johannesburg on May 12, 1932 to a mother born in Palestine and a father born in Lithuania.
He attended a Catholic boarding school, and was educated at the University of the Witwatersrand, graduating with a BCom, LLB in 1955.
He worked as a human rights lawyer from 1958 until 1965, when he left South Africa and Michelle. On retirement, he and Anne began a new adventure in Paul Roux in the Free State, together with former colleague and family friend, Dianne Low and her husband.
The two couples enjoyed playing bowls together and had regular sundowners.
Creux was especially proud of his daughters’ achievements; today Nicky is a scientist living in California while Michelle, who spent many hours by her settled in England.
Joffe pursued a new career in Britain in the financial services industry, eventually establishing Hambro Life Assurance with Sir Mark Weinberg. He was also active in voluntary work.
He was associated with Oxfam in various roles between 1982 and 2001, chairing the organisation from 1995.
He was a member of The Royal Commission on the Care of the Elderly, and also chaired The Swindon and Marlborough Health Authority and The Ridgeway Hospital.
Joffe was a trustee of many different charities and actively pursued a range of charitable activities through the Joffe Charitable Trust. dad’s side at the Pretoria News, became a journalist and is now regional production manager for Independent Media in Cape Town.
“My sister, Nicky, and I are unashamedly daddy’s girls and with a father like ours it’s no surprise,” said Michelle. “He supported Nicky when she decided to study science and never missed one of her graduations on her way to her PhD. He helped me make the newsroom my home, drove me to new cities and
He was generously honoured for his work, receiving honorary doctorates from the Open University (1995), De Montford University (2000), Witwatersrand University (2001), Brunel University (2004) and Bath University (2006), and, in 2016, was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1999 New Year Honours, and made a life peer in February 2000. He retired from the House of Lords in 2015.
According to his biography on Wikipedia, Joffe was a “Jewish atheist and a humanist in his beliefs” who was a “devoted member and patron” of Humanists UK, whose campaigns have included made sure I settled into new jobs.
“Being Etienne’s daughters came with some perks especially at Oppikoppi. Not content with just two kids, he went around unofficially adopting young reporters and photographers. But we were always his favourites.
“Actually, his real favourite was my mother, Anne. They would have celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary next month,” said Michelle. ethical issues such as assisted dying, and the promotion of a secular state in the UK.
Wide-ranging tributes to Joffe have been made this week from political and other spheres.
One of the most esteemed was made a decade ago by none other than Nelson Mandela, who wrote of Joffe’s virtues in his foreword to The State vs. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa.
Mandela wrote: “We went into that courtroom determined to put Apartheid in the dock, even if this were to put our own lives in jeopardy. And we were assisted by a legal team led by the indomitable advocate Bram Fischer and managed by the tireless attorney Joel Joffe.”
Photographer Etienne Creux took young journalists under his wing and was passionate about South African rock music.
Joel Joffe: prepared to serve ‘far beyond the call of a lawyer’s duty’.