by Charles Abrahams
Charles Abrahams has spearheaded class-action lawsuits to defend the vulnerable and oppressed, but as a child he experienced oppression himself in the most visceral way.
In this remarkable memoir, Charles recounts his poverty-stricken youth on the Cape Flats, amidst habitual gang fights and domestic violence. In the tiny home he shared with ten siblings, his father abused his mother, while at school he and other learners were brutalised by teachers and subjected to inferior ‘Bantu education’.
Growing increasingly resilient and resistant, Charles joined the school boycotts of the late 1980s, educated himself through relentless reading, and succeeded in studying at university and qualifying as a lawyer. He made a living defending local gangsters, until a scholarship took him to the Netherlands to study international law. There, in the seedy streets of Amsterdam, he confronted the racial and sexual scars of his past.
Charles returned to South Africa determined to use class-action lawsuits as a weapon of social justice. He sued multinationals in New York for supporting the apartheid govern- ment, took on food companies for xing the price of bread, and secured a R5-billion settle- ment from South Africa’s goldmining industry for miners suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.
Class Action is the honest, insightful and inspiring story of a man who wrestled with oppression and resolved to keep fighting it.