In one week South Africa has lost two human rights and anti-apartheid icons, this time it is the Rivonia trial defence lawyer, George Bizos.
The 92-year-old man has died of natural causes. Cape Town – In just a week, South Africa has lost two human rights and anti-apartheid icons – this time Rivonia trial defence lawyer George Bizos.
Bizos played an instrumental role in the negotiations for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and with Arthur Chaskalson and others assisted in the drafting of the democratic Constitution, which he then defended vigorously.
The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the George Bizos Saheti Scholarship and Bursary Fund stated that George Bizos was a campaigner against the death penalty led the team that successfully acted for the government, arguing that the death penalty was unconstitutional.
His death has come just a few days after political activist, author and former Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Achmat Dangor died, and less than a month after the death of Mandela’s doctor of almost 10 years, Vejay Ramlakan.
The organisations stated that they will celebrate the life of George Bizos that he lived so well, with energy, optimism, and selflessness.
The LRC are very honoured to have had George Bizos, who made a great contribution to the work of the centre.
From the beginning of the centre in 1978 he assisted in the background while perusing his career, then he joined the LRC in 1991.
George Bizos mentored many in the legal profession, some of whom have progressed to very senior positions in the profession and the judiciary.
George Bizos had a well-established practice as an advocate from 1954, where his main focus was on defending opponents of apartheid.
He also served on the Judicial Services Commission from 1994 to 2009, as an acting judge in the High Court of South Africa, and as a judge on the Appeal Court in Botswana.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation described George Bizos’s death as a hard blow for the organisation.
They stated that they first got to know him as Nelson Mandela’s close friend then over more than 20 years they began to see him as a friend and trusted adviser, they also sent their regards to the family.
The chief executive, Sello Hatang, stated that George Bizos was always available for support when there were events and to lend an ear to their challenges.
He also went on to state that he was like an uncle to them and always treated them with affection and respect.
George Bizos and Nelson Mandela’s friendship was strong for more than seven decades.
When Nelson Mandela was asked to talk about George Bizos he always turned to words of gratitude.
In the 1963-4 Rivonia Trial, George Bizos was a member of the defence team, and Nelson Mandela stated that he did not behave as though he was defending strangers.
Sello Hatang stated that these are the times when we remember Madiba and that we owe it to them to keep walking that long walk of freedom.
Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation Trust manager, Debbie Budlender, stated although George Bizos and others of the freedom fighters generation were of age it is still hard to accept their deaths