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Maisels, not Kentridge, led defence in treason trial

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Robyn Sassen’s article on William Kentridge was interesting and, as a great admirer of William and his work, I enjoyed reading it.
by Helen Maisels Trisk, Johannesburg | Nov 08, 2018

However there is one major inaccuracy in the article.

It was my late father, IA Maisels, who was leader of the defence team in the treason trial. Sir Sydney Kentridge, an esteemed colleague and friend of our family, was a member. Other members of the team that my late father led included Bram Fischer and Chris Plewman.

The 156 accused in the original charge sheet included Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Albert Luthuli, and Helen Joseph, all of whom were visitors to our home both at the time, and after 1990.

When Nelson Mandela came out of prison in 1990, he wanted to re-establish a relationship with the Jewish community. He called my late father or “Isie” as he was known, who arranged an historic meeting for him with the then Jewish leadership.

Isie occupied a unique position in South Africa. He enjoyed the respect of the Jewish community, the ANC, the wider community, even the government of the day, which he opposed so vigorously, both in the famous treason trial and other notable political trials, including the Ahmed Timol enquiry.

He held leadership positions in the Jewish community for more than 40 years. These included the roles of president of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, chairman of the Israel United Appeal, and president of the Wolmarans Street synagogue.

He was equally well known and respected by international Jewry as a governor of the Jewish Agency, and a governor of the Weizmann Institute for Science. 

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