Kentridge, Sir Sydney

views updated


KENTRIDGE, SIR SYDNEY (1922– ), South African and British lawyer who won international fame for his work in the human rights field. Born in Johannesburg, he was admitted to the Johannesburg Bar in 1949 and in 1965 was appointed senior counsel. He was called to the English Bar in 1977 and appointed queen's counsel in 1984. From 1981 to 1986, he served as judge of appeal in Botswana and from 1988 to 1982 he was judge of appeal of Jersey and Guernsey. In his early days at the Bar in South Africa, Kentridge appeared in a number of cases of historical and political significance, during which he represented opponents of South Africa's race laws that helped entrench white minority rule. He was a leading member of the defense team that successfully defended 30 leading political activists, including future President Nelson Mandela, against charges of treason in the 1958–61 Treason Trial. He subsequently appeared as counsel for the local community and the bishop of Johannesburg, Ambrose Reeves, at the inquiry into the shooting at Sharpeville, 1961, and for the family of Steve Biko at the inquest into his death in 1977. Further afield, he appeared for Stella Madzimabuto in both the then Rhodesia and the Privy Council in her challenge to the legality of the white minority regime of Ian Smith in Rhodesia. Widely regarded as one of the world's most eminent advocates, he was knighted in 1999 for his international human rights work over the years. Kentridge's father, Morris *Kentridge, was a long-serving Member of Parliament in the Union of South Africa, representing first the Labour Party, and after 1934 the United Party. His son is the artist William Kentridge.

[David Saks (2nd ed.)]

About this article

Kentridge, Sir Sydney

Updated About content Print Article