Charles Abrahams is a world-class lawyer who sued multinationals
for colluding with the apartheid government, but at twelve he was
determined to become a world-famous heartsurgeon. Then a school
inspector shattered his dream: coloured children from the Cape
Flats 'should not aim too high'. Class Action is the story of how
Charles aimed high anyway, despite a childhood that included forced
removal, dire poverty and the deep sense of shame of being neither
white nor a 'white coloured'. As one of eleven children in a poor
family, he experienced constant hardship and family strife.
Violence was ubiquitous: his street was notorious for its gang
fights, his father abused his mother at home, and schoolteachers
beat darker-skinned children like him. Charles wanted a larger
life, and he found it through student politics, anti-apartheid
activism and reading. He studied relentlessly, finding not only
formidable political weapons, but a means to delve into the damage
apartheid had done to his personal identity, selfesteem, sexuality
and morality. He went on to qualify as a lawyer and, after
defending local gangsters, he sought to do good through
human-rights and class-action law. He has since spearheaded some of
South Africa’s most historic, groundbreaking lawsuits, pursuing
justice for ordinary citizens whose lives were ruined by powers too
profit-driven to ever think about them.
Class Action depicts a
remarkable journey of resistance and healing in reaction to
institutionalised greed and racism and the harm it has done to our
identities, our relationships and the people of our country.
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