Judge Zakeria Mohamed Yacoob overcame physical, political and social obstacles to become one of the country’s sharpest legal minds. Zac – as he is better known – became blind at the age of sixteen, months after contracting meningitis. But the disability did not deter him from reaching the pinnacle of success – appointment as a Constitutional Court judge.
Born on 3 March 1948, he spent most of his life in Durban. Zac did his schooling at the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind. In 1967 he studied towards a BA Law degree at the University College, Durban. He married Anu, a social worker, in 1970 and the couple have two children. Zac was appointed as an advocate of the Natal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court in March 1993. He practiced as a junior counsel until 1991, running his own practice. In February 1998, Zac was appointed Judge of the South African Constitutional Court.
He is a veteran anti-apartheid activist, and as a member of the Natal Indian Congress from 1981 – 1991, he organised and took part in protests, produced and distributed publicity material and addressed numerous mass meetings. Zac is also a social activist and is involved in the Natal Indian Blind and Deaf Society and the South African National Council for the Blind. Zac Yacoob’s physical handicap has never deterred him from achieving his goals. He is living proof that the human spirit can emerge victorious even under the worst circumstances.
By Nevani Nair
Facts courtesy of: Constitutional Court and Faathima Mahomed: Professional Assistant to Justice Z M Yacoob