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Tribute to Deneys Molteno Williamson by Judge President Friedman


(Extractsfrom the tribute paid to his memory by Judge President Friedman on 21 September 1995) 

Deneys Molteno Williamson was born in Cape Town on 9 October 1927. He completed his schooling at the Diocesan College at Rondebosch in 1945. In 1946 he enrolled as a student at the University of Cape Town and by the end of 1950 he had obtained the BA and LLB degrees.
He was admitted to the Bar in Johannesburg in 1951. There he suc­ceeded in building up a sound trial practice. In December 1974 he took Silk and the following year he was appointed as an acting judge in the Transvaal Provincial Division. 

Although Deneys practised at the Johannesburg Bar for almost his entire professional career, his roots were always in the Cape. His great grandfather, Sir John Molteno, had been the first Prime Minister of the Cape. It was from him that Deneys's second name was derived. Deneys 'sfather, Arthur Faure Williamson, who eventually graced the Appellate Division, had practised at the Cape Bar from 1922 until 1940. 

And so in August 1977, Deneys left Johannesburg and returned to Cape Town where he joined the Cape Bar. He was very soon briefed in heavy civil cases. One of these was Euroshipping Corporationof Monrovio Minister of Agriculture and others 1979 (2) SA 1072 (C). Another was List vJungers 1979 (3) SA 106 (A). 

In 1979 he was appointed as a judge of the Cape Provincial Division, a position which he held until his death. 

Deneys was an unassuming man of imposing stature. He had a won­derful nature: he never lost his tem­per; he was softly spoken, had a dis­arming smile and was always calm, collected and unruffled. These attrib­utes, together with his outstanding intellect, made of him a highly talented judge.

He was assigned many difficult and contentious criminal cases. Thesehe handled with tact and fair­ness that was apparent to everyone concerned. It was therefore not sur­prising that he gained therespect of the accused, the prosecution and members of the general public. One such case was The State vMpetha and others which began in March 1981 and went on until June 1983. Another well-known case in which he presided was the private prosecution inwhat was popularly referred to as the Trojan Horse case. 

Much as Deneys was devoted to the law, he had other consuming inter­ests as well. His main interest throughout his life was rock climbing and general mountaineering. He was an active member of the Mountain Club of South Africa which he joined at the beginning of 1944. He was a member of both the Transvaal and Cape Town sections of the Mountain Club and was a past chairman of the Transvaal section. As a mountaineer he went on a number of first ascents of peaks in the Western Cape. He was also part of the party that first climbed the main waterfall at the top of the Groothoekkloof near De Doorns. His climbing was, however, not confined to the Western Cape.There is hardly a mountain range in South Africa that Deneys has not climbed

Another sport that claimed Deneys's attention during the eighties was boardsailing. He was a familiar figure at Sandvlei and Zeekoevlei with his wetsuit and his sailboard. Deneys was a great lover of nature. He was an expert on the flora of Table Mountain and knew the names of every plant and flower that is to be found on Table Mountain. 

Deneys was a very religious per­son. He was a warm person with a friendly disposition. On the Bench he conducted himself with great dignity, but off the Bench he was sometimes a very informal person. 

Deneys's last illness was a pro­tracted one which first manifested itself in April last year. Throughout this period he insisted on continuing with his judicial duties and persistent­ly refused to apply for sick leave. Even at the end he was determined to leave no unfinished work. He dictat­ed his last outstanding judgment to his secretary at his hospital bedside a few days before he died. The typed judgment was signed by him in hospi­tal and delivered by a colleague on his behalf. 

Date21 Sept 1995
Linked toDeneys Molteno Williamson

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