Relentless journey for the underdog in Charles Abrahams’ ‘Class Action’

Charles Abrahams has spearheaded class action lawsuits to defend the most vulnerable and oppressed, but as a child he experienced oppression himself in the most immediate and visceral way.

In this gripping memoir, he writes about his poverty-stricken youth on the Cape Flats where both gang fights and domestic violence were rife.

In the tiny home he shared with his parents and 10 children, he witnessed the horrors of abuse by his father to his mother and while at school, they were subjected to brutality by teachers and received an inferior education.

Abrahams became an activist in the late 1980s and through relentless reading educated himself and became a lawyer.

This came in the face of having his childhood dream of becoming a world-famous heart surgeon shattered when a school inspector told him coloured children from the Cape Flats “should not aim too high”.

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Abrahams initially defended local gangsters and then travelled overseas to the Netherlands to study international law. Today he’s a top lawyer who has sued multinationals for colluding with the apartheid government as a weapon of social justice.

He has sued, for example, multinationals in New York and has taken on food companies for fixing the price of bread. And in a landmark case he secured R5billion settlement from the gold mining industry for miners suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.

This is his journey of resistance and the harm greed and racism has done to our identities, relationships and the people of our country.

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