In April Judge Raymond Zondo was interviewed by the JSC for the position of Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court. Here he shares a moving story of how a local businessman, Mr Moosa, helped him and his family.
Johannesburg, South Africa (07 April 2018) – Judge Raymond Zondo spent three-and-half hours while being interviewed for the Deputy-Chief Justice position and what started on a poignant note, ended on a ponderous one.
But it was a 4-minute conversation in the middle of the interview that really showed South Africa what Ubuntu is.
Zondo wiped a tear from his eye as he was asked by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to recall his impoverished childhood and the difficulties he overcame — an absent migrant labourer father, the heavy expectation to support his family after completing school — to study law at university.
A story of hope and humility connected a retired Port Shepstone businessman and the country’s new deputy chief justice.
The story relates to a loan for food that Suleman Bux (76), who owned a supermarket in Ixopo, offered a then 17-year-old Zondo in 1977.
That act of kindness has remained with Zondo and 40 years later propels him to help the less fortunate.
“When I finished matric I was confident I would get an exemption and qualify to go to university. I was confident I was going to get a bursary too but my problem was at home the situation was quite bad. My mother lost her job two years before my matric,” he said in the clip.
Zondo continues to say that by the time he finished Grade 11, his mother had exhausted all her savings.
“Somehow I felt that the community had seen how my mother struggled to raise us on her own and expected me to look for work after matric to support her. I wanted to go and do law and was determined but I felt I couldn’t do that unless I made arrangements to ensure my mother and siblings would have something to eat.”
That was when he approached Bux and asked for a loan. “Very interestingly he didn’t ask many questions and agreed to help me. He said he can’t give me money but will give me a voucher to give to my mother for groceries. Each month my mother would collect groceries up to the value of R20 at his shop until I finished my degree.”
The oral agreement continued for three years and in the clip, an emotional Zondo said he was touched by Bux’s humility when he refused to accept repayment for the loan.
“When I asked him what arrangements we could make so I repay him, he said don’t worry. Do to others what I have done to you. I thought that was very important and in my own small way I try to do that,” said the judge.
Zondo said without that kindness of strangers and the assistance of bursaries, “I would never have gone past primary school.”
Later, when pressed for any advice he would give people who experienced similar socio-economic hardship, he said: “Don’t just sit there and do nothing and say you are poor, be proactive.”
Watch the full interview below: