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Charles Abrahams, silicosis attorney: ‘Someone has to bat for the underdogs’

Sitting in the foyer of the Radisson Blu, Charles Abrahams looked past the hotel pool towards a Sandton construction site. Downstairs, delegates were meeting to discuss compensating mineworkers for occupational diseases, an issue Abrahams has worked to bring to the fore. “You grow up in a world where the more money and power you have the more human you become – that’s how I grew up…,” said the attorney, who has built a reputation for taking on corporates who have avoided legal accountability, before and after 1994…Throughout our conversation, Abrahams often mentioned “principle politics”, which defines his sense of justice, values and career focus. He’s an expert on how South Africa’s transition to democracy let corporates who were explicitly or implicitly supporting the apartheid regime avoid accountability. 

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