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 heart surgeon. 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, self esteem, 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Abrahams is a prominent South African human-rights and class-action lawyer. He holds a BProc degree from the University of the Western Cape and a master’s degree in Public International Law from Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is the recipient of the prestigious Edward Quist-Arcton Award and the Nelson Mandela Scholarship Award.
Class Action is published by Penguin Random House South Africa