13 March 2004

Dullah Omar, South African Minister of Transport and Anti-Apartheid Lawyer, Dies of Hodgkins Disease

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) expresses its condolences to Farida Omar and the family of Dullah Omar. Minister Omar died early Saturday morning of Hodgkins Disease, a form of cancer that affects lymphatic tissue.

Minister Omar was a human rights lawyer who took on the Apartheid regime. He dedicated most of his adult life to fighting for the rights of people oppressed by the National Party government, especially the poor. He frequently did not charge for his services and made enormous personal and financial sacrifices for his clients. After the fall of Apartheid, he became Minster of Justice, then Minister of Transport. But he and Farida continued to live in the same modest house in Rylands, Cape Town.

Minister Omar was a mentor to TAC chairperson, Zackie Achmat when Achmat was a young political activist. He had a substantial influence on Achmat's undertanding of the law and its usefulness for redressing injustice.

Our thoughts are with Minister Omar's family during this difficult time.