Commissioner Chris Nissen (SAHRC) visits Dullah Omar Institute

On Monday 21 August, Mr Chris Nissen, Commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission visited the Dullah Omar Institute. Commissioner Nissen and the Institute share a connection with the late Adv Dullah Omar as the two worked together intensively as activists. The meeting, attended by senior staff of the Institute, focused on how the two organisations can intensify their collaborative efforts towards achieving social justice.

Mr. Nissen was ordained as a Minister of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of South Africa in 1981 and served in congregations as far afield as Limpopo Province, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. He worked for the Western Province Council of Churches in the 1980s, leading the Standing for the Truth Campaign. He also attended HIV/AIDS training in Canada in 1991 on behalf of the South African Council of Churches.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Nissen did extensive work as a community organiser in communities such as Graaff Reinett, Eerste River Advice Office, Macassar, Die Bos (now named after him as, Chris Nissen Park) and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. He supported communities in various human rights issues such as housing and access to land. Due to his work, Mr. Nissen has been honoured by having streets named after him as well as a school in Knysna.

After years of ecumenical, community and political organisation based work, Mr. Nissen was appointed as a Member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature, served as Deputy Speaker, served as MEC of Economic Affairs and was National Co-ordinator of the Mashakane Campaign for the Department of Constitutional Development from 1994 to 1999.