Those Who Made and Developed the RCSL
The socio legal community will be saddened to learn of Sandra's death in Cape Town on January 28th 2015.
She was a founder member of the Centre for Socio Legal Studies, Oxford, where she worked on the first large empirical project looking at the compensation and support for victims of illness or injury, publishing results of a pilot study as early as 1977 with Hazel Genn1, long before the final report came out in 19842.
She was an energetic and congenial colleague, much missed when she returned to South Africa to work on the development of social legal studies there, but on her regular summer visits to Oxford when she would tell us about developments back home and enlist our support continued for many years.
She set herself demanding goals in South Africa, and did not spare herself in working towards them whatever the obstacles. She will be remembered with affection and respect as a fine scholar and a woman of conviction and integrity.
Professor Hugh Corder of the Faculty of Law in University of Cape Town has written a warm tribute. He describes how she took her BA Cape Town in 1962 and her LLB in 1964 followed by her PhD in Oxford in 1974 on the change in African customary law and society in late 19th century Africa. She returned to Cape Town in the early 1980s where she worked with the Centre for Conflict Resolution led by the calm and indomitable Quaker, Professor H W van der Merwe3.
Her wide research interests included family law, in particular the consequences of divorce, and the history of illegitimacy in South Africa. She fought for the establishment of socio legal studies in South Africa, but was perhaps ahead of her time, and was unable, despite strong support from colleagues in the UK, to prevent the withdrawal of HSRC funding from her Centre for Socio Legal Research on her retirement.
She coped courageously with health problems so successfully that her early death has come as great shock to those who knew her. As Hugh Corder says, "She will live on in the work and lives of so many, research assistants and colleagues".
1 Burman S B Genn H G and Lyons J ,1977, 'Pilot Study of the Use of Legal Services by Victims of Accidents in the Home" 40 MLR,47
2 Compensation and Support for Illness and Injury D Harris et al OUP, Oxford 1984
(Reprinted with kind permission of the Socio-legal Studies Association, which previously published the text in its newletter.)
(Source: RCSL Newsletter Spring 2015)