Albie Sach’s career in human rights activism started at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Three years later, he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted. He started practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar at the age of 21. The bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws.
In 1966, he was forced into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England, he worked for a further eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988, he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight in one eye. After recovering from the attack, Justice Sachs devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990, he returned home and, as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC, took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994, he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court. In addition to his work on the Court, Justice Sachs has travelled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He is a prolific author in law and philosophy and is engaged in art and architecture.