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SAHRC mourns the passing away of one of its Commissioners

Media statement delivered by the South African Human Rights Commission Chairman, Adv. Lawrence Mushwana, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga

15 August 2012

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters

I would like to express my sincerest thanks and gratitude to the members of the media for responding to our request for a media briefing which was sent to you at very short notice.

It is with great sorrow and sadness that I announce to the nation the passing on of Commissioner, Dr Gladstone Sandi Baai.

Commissioner Baai passed away this morning at 03h29 at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. Commissioner Baai had an asthmatic condition which deteriorated when he was attending a meeting in Cape Town resulting in his admission at Milpark Hospital this past weekend.

He was born on 21 December 1942.

His wife, children and other members of his family were at his bedside when he passed on.
The South African Human Rights Commission is deeply saddened by the passing on of one of its trusted and hard working Commissioners.

Commissioner Baai joined the Commission on 1st December 2010 after he was unanimously nominated by Parliament. All Commissioners within the SAHRC are allocated focus areas. Commissioner Baai’s focus area was health and the right to food.

He quickly developed a keen interest on health-related matters, and other socio-economic matters as well as to the improvement of access to food and housing. As a person who himself grew up in the rural areas of Bizana in the Eastern Cape, he knew how it feels to go to bed hungry, and wanted to change that. Hence, it is no surprise that he had already worked himself to organizing a dialogue on the right to food, which was scheduled to take place later this year. In addition, he also represented the work of the Commission in his home province of the Eastern Cape.

Commissioner Baai was no stranger to human rights work. Before joining the South African Human Rights Commission, he served as Director of Professional Ethics at the Office of the Public Service Commission, a Chapter 10 Institution. His interest in this area started at an early age where he was involved in the anti-apartheid movement, including years spent in both the United Kingdom and the United States. He came back with other expatriates after the unbanning of political movements. He has also served as a cleric who was outspokenly critical of the unjust apartheid regime and its oppressive policies.

Commissioner Baai lived his life defending the rights of the vulnerable and the poor, and pushed the authorities to ensure the rights of everyone are respected.

He will be remembered by the Commission as a tireless human rights campaigner, a hard working colleague, who also was able to inject serious work with humour and compassion.

I will personally remember him as somebody who was very passionate on matters of ethics. He also wrote a lot about ethical standards. I will also remember him as somebody who was  extremely concerned about the corruption eating away at our nation.

We, at the Human Rights Commission, are liaising with the family on funeral arrangements and we will communicate these arrangements  in due course. Commissioner Baai leaves his wife, two sons, and two daughters.

On behalf of all Commissioners and staff of the South African Human Rights Commission we would like to express our sincerest condolences to his  wife,  children and extended family and friends during this difficult time.

We want to assure them of our support and that we will continue to remember and keep them in our thoughts.

We wish them courage and strength that will be necessary to carry them through this period of mourning.
His passing is a loss to the Human Rights fraternity and the Nation at large.

Hamba kahle Commissioner Baai.


NOTE:  A more detailed statement about the life of Commissioner Baai will be issued later.
For Media Queries please contact:
Isaac Mangena
Head: Communications
South Africa Human Rights Commission
071 884 8273
011 877 3603
Email: imangena@sahrc.org.za

For comments email info@sahrc.org.za [Back]

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