Mourning the loss

Peter Williams was the organiser of last years Trojan Horse Massacre commemoration. Here he is pictured at the massacre memorial site in Thornton Road, during a wreath-laying ceremony.

Andre Buis, Principal, Belgravia High School

We, the principal and staff, students past and present, and our extended Belgravia family, mourn the loss of our 1985 Student Representative Council member and student leader, who spent some 160 days detained without trial at Victor Verster Prison during the student unrest in 1985/6.

Williams, who died at the age of 49, spent his life fighting for social justice and for the dignity of others. Appropriately, he was laid to rest on Human Rights Day (Tuesday March 23).

After qualifying as an attorney, he joined the law firm of human rights lawyer and later Judge Essa Moosa.During his distinguished legal career, Williams, with Advocate George Bizos SC, represented the victims of the 1989 Athlone Early Learning Centre bombing by the apartheid government’s Civil Co-operation Bureau at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He represented domestic worker Gloria Kente, who was subjected to humiliating and racist treatment at her workplace, and who was awarded R50 000 in damages by the Equality Court in 2014.

In 2016 he was the attorney of record when Penny Sparrow was ordered to pay R150 000 to the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation and fined an additional R5 000 for a racist Facebook post.

However, it was Williams’ last public act that showed his true heart and character.

In October 2016, after 30 years, he returned to his alma mater determined to remember those killed during the Trojan Horse massacre in 1985 and to honour their families. In the year when Belgravia High School celebrated its 60th anniversary, Williams and others organised a dignified and memorable event that brought together the greater Belgravia and Athlone community.

Peter Williams’ passing is felt by all of us who knew and loved him. We remember his wife, Annastasia, children and loved ones.

We are comforted by Leonardo da Vinci’s words that a life well spent is a long life.