Staunch prosecutor James Selfe dies at 68

The former chairman of the federal district attorney's council, James Selfe, died Tuesday afternoon, the party said.  (Dean Vivier/Netwerk24)

The former chairman of the federal district attorney’s council, James Selfe, died Tuesday afternoon, the party said. (Dean Vivier/Netwerk24)

  • James Selfe, former chairman of the federal district attorney’s council, has died at age 68.
  • He spent nearly two decades as the district attorney.
  • Selfe resigned in 2019 due to health problems.

Former Federal District Attorney’s Council Chairman James Selfe has died at age 68.

Selfe died Tuesday afternoon, the party said.

He served in the party for almost two decades before resigning in 2019 due to health problems.

He worked with several party leaders, such as Tony Leon, Helen Zille and Mmusi Maimane.

Party leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement that Selfe led a quietly influential life in contemporary South African political history, having made an immense contribution to South African democracy.

“Selfe helped fine-tune the party’s systems and processes, toughening its Federal Constitution and turning the fast-growing DA into a modern, internationally renowned African liberal party of rules and justice,” he said.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Selfe worked as a researcher for the DA’s precursor, the Federal Progressive Party, to combat the National Party’s regressive and divisive apartheid laws in Parliament.

He then served as the party’s communications director and later became executive director.

Following his election to the National Council of Provinces in 1994 in South Africa’s first democratic parliament, Selfe served in the Constitutional Assembly, participating in the drafting of South Africa’s democratic Constitution.

“Throughout his almost 30-year parliamentary career, James served on several portfolio committees, particularly the Justice and Correctional Services Committee, where his oversight of South Africa’s judicial system was crucial in ensuring justice and accountability. accounts were always maintained in South African society,” Steenhuisen said.

“Through his service to three federal leaders as the party’s first Federal Council president, James implemented the establishment and strengthening of the DA as South Africa’s formidable official opposition.

“Most importantly, James pioneered the district attorney’s legal program, responsible for some of the most groundbreaking legal rulings in post-democratic history, setting a variety of legal precedents that strengthened public accountability in our young democracy,” he said. the leader of the party.

From the Zuma spy tapes to Nkandla and the exposure of state contracts awarded to Bosasa, Selfe led the charge against corruption and mismanagement.

Steenhuisen said Selfe was always committed to building and maintaining a democracy in which transparency and accountability ensured the party’s government served its people, and not the politicians holding the reins.

“James set the example for many of us in the DA, and we will continue this work for our country in his memory. The DA is a vast, diverse and expansive political home for millions of South Africans today because of decades of work and sacrifice made by the right honorable James Selfe.

“Even younger and newer members of the party today admire James for his immense contribution not only to the DA, but to South African democracy as a whole. This profound impact will be James’ proud democratic legacy,” he added.

Selfe is survived by his wife, Sheila, and three daughters, Chloe, Stephanie and Emma.