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Obituary: Lucrecia Seafield (1961 – 2017)

Lucrecia Seafield was a highly regarded and accomplished human rights lawyer with a track record of having worked with the marginalised and vulnerable through the different periods of her career.

Lucrecia Seafield was a highly regarded and accomplished human rights lawyer with a track record of having worked with the marginalised and vulnerable through the different periods of her career.

Born in the township of Eersterust, east of Pretoria, the young Lucrecia, began her career at Lawyers for Human Rights where she was part of the legal team that opposed the death penalty imposed on political activists during the apartheid era. The efforts of this team delayed the execution of many political activists who were on death row until the death penalty was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in June 1995. This experience strengthened her resolve to continue fighting for justice for all. She was one of the first project officers employed at the Foundation for Human Rights and one of the longest-serving. In the early years, Lucrecia was responsible for the litigation programme with most of the earlier cases in the Constitutional Court being funded by the Foundation.

In recent years, Lucrecia worked on the programme responsible for raising awareness of rights under the Constitution and was responsible for programmes such as the Big Debate, Promoting Resolution 1325 dealing with the rights of women and gender-based violence.

In 2003, Lucrecia left the foundation to begin her new life in Nigeria with her partner, Olawale Fapohunda. She returned to South Africa in 2010 and began working once again for the Foundation for Human Rights.

Lucrecia was dedicated to the transformation in our country and was passionately involved in the work of the Foundation. She was also a mentor to many of the young people in our office often confronting the management team about their rights and we teased her about being the unelected shop steward in the office. The most popular programme manager with junior programme officers and interns was Lucrecia as many saw the passionate commitment she had to her projects. 

The Foundation partnered with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on a programme titled ‘Access to Justice’. This was followed in 2014, with a programme called Socio-Economic Justice for All (SEJA). Under this programme, Lucrecia worked very closely with government bringing civil society in as partners on educating government on their obligations under the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This year, South Africa filed its first report under the Covenant timeously. She will be missed by all of us at the Foundation.

Our condolences go out to her daughter, Adenike, her partner Olawale and her immediate family including her siblings, nephews and nieces, close friends and colleagues who have suffered the loss of someone who was much loved and respected across our country and beyond. 

Lucrecia died fighting her illness and never giving in to it. Her indomitable spirit will live on.

Hamba Kahle Old Friend