Jules Browde‚ a prominent South African Jewish attorney and judge who was best known for representing Nelson Mandela, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday at the age of 98.
Born in Johannesburg, Browde was the oldest member of the Johannesburg Bar and a founding member of Lawyers for Human Rights. During his long career as a lawyer and later a judge, he defended several African National Congress leaders, including Oliver Tambo and Mandela, whom he befriended as a law student at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1996, Mandela chose Browde to probe alleged irregularities in the appointment of public officials during South Africa's transition to democracy.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies issued a statement expressing its "sincerest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues." It noted that Browde had been a Jewish communal leader and served as national president of the Habonim youth movement for 25 years.
Browde was married for over 60 years to Prof. Selma Browde, a top radiation oncologist and anti-apartheid activist. Together, they received the Helen Suzman Award by the SA Jewish Report in 2011, three years after he was presented with the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award for Service to Law in Southern Africa.
During his last visit to Israel in 2005, Browde planted a tree during a ceremony at Kibbutz Yezre'el, marking the 70th Habonim reunion.