Share this article


​​Judge Cameron says Joburg is a 'future-minded city'​
download (22).jpg​Appeal​ Court judge and Wits University Council chair Edwin Cameron loves Joburg because it's a "future-minded city" that "judges people on their present achievements".

"Joburg is a city that believes in the future and doesn't rest on any past laurels," he says.

Although Cameron spends half the year in Bloemfontein at the Appeal Court, he is always happy to get back to Joburg.

He spends his time enjoying the city by going to movies and plays, and says the exciting development of Newtown is "enthralling" to watch.

There's an "energy here that you don't find in any other city", he says, and that means it's a very productive place to be. And he's certainly evidence of that energy and productivity, with a distinguished career and numerous achievements in his 50 years.

Cameron, a tall, slim man who exudes warmth and friendliness, is best known in recent years for his public admission of being HIV-positive when he was interviewed for the position of judge on the Constitutional Court in 1999. But for years beforehand, from the late 1980s, he was actively involved in seeking protection, dignity and privacy for people living with Aids and for gay and lesbian people.

In 1988 he helped draft the mining industry's first comprehensive Aids agreement, at the same time drafting the Charter of Rights on Aids and HIV. He also co-founded the Aids Consortium, bringing together NGOs working in the Aids field. He was also the first director of the Aids Law Project.

He oversaw the gay and lesbian movement's submission when the Constitution was being drafted in 1994, resulting in the inclusion of a clause respecting sexual orientation in the final Constitution, a world first.

Born in Pretoria and having moved to Joburg 20 years ago, Cameron distinguished himself at Stellenbosch, Oxford and Unisa by obtaining his law degree cum laude, in the process being awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship in 1976. He started practice at the Johannesburg Bar in 1983. In 1986 he ran a human rights' practice based at Wits University's Centre for Applied Legal Studies.

He has served as a Constitutional Court judge and a High Court judge. In 1998 he was appointed chairman of the Wits University Council, and is chair and co-founder of the Wits Law School Endowment Appeal.

He has co-authored four books, and produced papers on various aspects of law. He is the recipient of many awards and distinctions, among them the Nelson Mandela Award, the Alumnus Award from Stellenbosch University, and a special award from the Bar of England and Wales for his "contribution to international jurisprudence and the protection of human rights".

It's hard to stop him enthusing about the city: "It's a big, ugly, dangerous, exciting, wonderful city which is cosmopolitan, open and welcoming."

When he finally retires, he has no plans to move from this "African and world city".​

​​