Fikile Charles Bam

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Fikile Charles Bam


Judge-President of the Lands Claim Court; Member of the Eastern Cape Bar; Member of Independent Mediation Services of South Africa; Member of Eastern Cape Society of Advocates and Johannesburg Bar Council; political prisoner on Robben Island.

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
18 July 1937
Location of birth: 
Tsolo, Eastern Cape (now Eastern Province), South Africa
Date of death: 
18 December 2011
Location of death: 
Park Lane Clinic, Johannesburg

Fikile Charles Bam was born on 18 July 1937, in Tsolo in the Eastern Cape. He attended St. Peter’s Secondary School from 1956, and went on to study law at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1960. Bam was a member of the Yu Chi Chan Club (Chinese for guerrilla warfare) which was a study group that met to discuss means of achieving liberation.

In 1960, Bam was arrested and detained after the Sharpeville and Langa Massacres, when a State of Emergency was declared in the country. He was then sentenced to imprisonment on Robben Island in 1963, and served an 11 year term on the island, from 1964 to 1975. Bam was detained with other prominent political leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. 

After his release from prison, Bam obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 1975 and a Baccalaureus Procurationis from the same institution in 1976. Bam applied to join the Pretoria Bar Council in 1978 but was refused. However, during the same year he was enrolled and admitted as an attorney for the Republic of South Africa.

Bam has served in various positions over the years, including the Acting Chairman for Lawyers for Human Rights, Deputy Chairman of the Vista University Council and Deputy Chairman of the University of the Witwatersrand Council. Bam was also the Chairman of the Transkei Bar from 1984 to 1985.

Bam has also served as a director of various South African and international companies, including KAPBeteiligungs in Germany, Putco, Volkswagen SA, First National Bank, Iscor Ltd., Armscor, Silver Oak Industries and Consol.

Bam was a partner in Deneys Reitz Attorneys firm from 1994 to 1995, a member of the South African Broadcasting Commission (SABC) from 1993 to 1996 and the director the Legal Resources Centre in Port Elizabeth in 1985.  

Bam’s current positions include Judge President of the Land Claims Court from 1995, and a member of the Eastern Cape Bar and the Industrial Courts of the Ciskei and Transkei. Bam was appointed Commissioner of the Goldstone Commission from 1992 to 1993 and was an advocate in both the Supreme Court of South Africa and the Transkei.

Bam’s legal expertise has also been applied in various capacities, including his involvement in the Independent Mediation Services of South Africa in 1987, the Open Society Foundation, Project Literacy, and the Trust for Educational Advancement in South Africa.

Bam served as a mediator for the Independent Electoral Committee in 1994, when the first democratic elections took place in South Africa.

In the academic arena, Bam was a Visiting Fellow to Yale University in 1985, and served as Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand from 1997 to 1998. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Rhodes University in 2001. Bam was also Professor Extraordinary of Stellenbosch University.

Bam passed away on 18 December 2011 at Milpark hospital in Johannesburg.

• Centre for Development and Enterprise: Board [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 June 2009]
• Dulcie Evonne September Biography [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 June 2009]
• Fikile Bam: Interview Excerpt [online] Available at:  [Accessed 19 June 2009]
• Mandela: An Audio History [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 June 2009]
• Mandela, N. (1994) Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Published by Abacus. pg 457, 514.
• Mr. Fikile Charles Bam [online] Available at:  [Accessed 19 June 2009]     SABC, 'SA Mourns Judge Bam', 18 December 2011, [online], available at (Accessed: 10 June 2013)

Last updated : 10-Jun-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011