The Remarkable Tale Of Desiree Finca

The Remarkable Tale Of Desiree Finca And How She Became The First Black Female South African Lawyer

Desiree Finca’s groundbreaking achievement as South Africa’s first black female legal practitioner was celebrated by the Black Lawyers Association (BLA).

This historic event, held at Emperors Palace, honored Finca’s pioneering spirit and her immense contribution to the legal profession.

Breaking Barriers in South African Law

Desiree Finca’s admission to the legal profession in 1967 marked a pivotal moment in South African history. She confronted a system steeped in racism, sexism, and classism.

Finca’s journey was fraught with challenges, including humiliation from magistrates who questioned her credibility.

Despite these obstacles, Finca persevered. Her determination paved the way for future generations of black women in law. Today, her legacy continues to inspire and empower legal professionals across South Africa.

From Teacher to Trailblazing Attorney

Finca’s path to law was unconventional. Initially trained as a teacher, she later pursued a career in law. This decision was influenced by her sister Marcia and their friend, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Dr. Brigalia Bam, a long-time friend, shared insights into Finca’s early life. Born to a soldier father, Finca was educated at Healdtown, a Methodist school. Her journey from teacher to lawyer exemplifies her adaptability and determination.

Challenging Legal Precedents and Prejudices

Finca’s entry into law challenged long-standing prejudices. Legal practitioner Mojanku Gumbi highlighted the discriminatory legal environment Finca faced.

Historical cases like Incorporated Law Society v Wookey 1912 had reinforced the exclusion of women from the legal profession.

Gumbi emphasized the significance of Finca’s achievement within this context. She noted that Finca’s admission came at a time when women were not considered “persons” under the law. This makes Finca’s accomplishment even more remarkable.

Legacy and Impact on South African Law

Finca’s legacy extends beyond her personal achievements. Her grandson, Yolisamazaza Mkhele, spoke of her impact on their family and the nation. He expressed pride in her accomplishments and gratitude for her contributions.

BLA President Bayethe Maswazi stressed the importance of Finca’s story. He said it serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against patriarchy and male dominance in the legal profession. Finca’s journey continues to inspire excellence and perseverance among legal practitioners.

Continuing the Fight for Equality

The celebration of Finca’s life and achievements highlights ongoing efforts for equality in South African law. Kathleen Matolo-Dlepu of the Legal Practice Council noted that while progress has been made, challenges remain.

The event emphasized the need to continue Finca’s work. It underscored the importance of ensuring equal opportunities for women and black practitioners in the legal profession. Finca’s story serves as both inspiration and a call to action for future generations.