Cape Town – The former provincial head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Hishaam Mohamed, spent Friday packing up 27 years of memories from his time with the department
Mohamed will head to Parliament as a member of the National Assembly for the ANC.
In a moving letter to colleagues in the Justice Department, Mohamed said: “I am typing this message with a heavy heart and after extensive consultations with my family and friends, I wish to inform you that I have accepted my election to the National Assembly as a member of Parliament”.
“I am leaving our beloved department after 27 years of service to the most vulnerable in our communities. This experience has been personally fulfilling.
“The sadness of this moment stems from having to leave behind the camaraderie and support you all have given me over more than two decades.”
Mohamed began his work in the legal fraternity when he was 25, as a temporary clerk at the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on February 1, 1990.
Ten days later, on February 11, the ANC was unbanned and Mohamed said he sprayed his Datsun car in the ANC’s colours.
“It was a holiday job and I remember my father coming to our office and telling me the ANC was unbanned and that I should leave my job and spray my car.
“I was also held in a cell for an hour as I had the radio on loud to listen to the unbanning broadcast and a magistrate held me in contempt of court,” he said.
Mohamed graduated with an LLB degree from UWC in 1992 and spent his first years as a prosecutor at the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court.
Some of his career highlights include pilot projects like the Tax, Family, Gang and Community Courts that began on his watch.
“I have worked under five different ministers. One of my greatest successes was the Isondlo initiative, Pay Your Maintenance,” he said.
Well-known criminal lawyer William Booth said he first got to know Mohamed in criminal defence matters and the two served on committees.
“Hishaam was very active and involved on a provincial level when it came to representing legal practitioners. He always stepped up to the plate when it came to ensuring the effective running of the court,” said Booth.
He hoped that Mohamed, as an MP, would still play a role in the efficient running of the criminal justice system.
Mohamed’s role will for the time being be taken by his deputy and the current legal director.