Early this morning, the South African Jewish community lost one of its most loved and respected members with the passing, at the age of 98, of Advocate Jules Browde, an eminent member of the Johannesburg Bar and a long-serving human rights activist and Jewish communal leader.
In the course of a career stretching over more than half a century, Browde acted for Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, as well as other anti-apartheid activists, and was a founder member of Lawyers for Human Rights. His Jewish communal involvement included serving for 25 years as national president of the Habonim youth movement.
Jules Browde was born in Johannesburg in 1919. After obtaining a BA from Wits University, he enlisted in the Union Defence Force in the early months of World War II. After the war, he continued his studies at Wits, where he first met Mandela, a fellow law student. The two men established a warm and enduring friendship, one interrupted by Mandela’s 27 years of imprisonment but renewed shortly after his release. In 1996, Mandela’s appointed Browde to investigate irregularities in the appointment of certain public servants’ posts during the transition to democracy period.
Browde was married for over 60 years to Professor Selma Browde, who has also achieved considerable eminence, in her profession as a senior radiation oncologist at the University of the Witwatersrand and Johannesburg group of hospitals.
In 1969, Browde was appointed as a Senior Council. He went on to serve as an acting judge in South Africa, as well as a judge on the Appeal Courts of Swaziland and Lesotho. In July 2008, he received the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award for Service to Law in Southern Africa. Both he and his wife received the Helen Suzman Lifetime Achievement Award, by the SA Jewish Report, in 2011. The SAJBD expresses its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.