Tribute to George Bizos

Today the Foundation for Human Rights mourns with the rest of the country the passing away of Advocate George Bizos. George Bizos became a household name and gained popularity as the people’s lawyer for taking on political cases at a time when most were too scared to take on the might of the apartheid state. In his legal career he represented lots of political activists in high profile political trials. He represented Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela in both the Treason and Rivonia Trials. He also represented the trialists in the Delmas treason trial. Apart from the political trials he appeared in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission representing families of the victims of gross human rights violations.

George Bizos was a man of many facets. He was much more than a brilliant trial lawyer. He was also an avid vegetable gardener who shared his produce with visitors, a connoisseur of good food and wine and a good host who kept you entertained with stories relating to his practice. George went on to publish his stories in two books. His first book aptly titled “No One to Blame” is based on inquest hearings into the deaths of political activists who were tortured and killed during detention by the security branch police. Unsurprisingly, the inquest hearings came to the conclusion that no one was to be blamed for the death of political activists killed by the state. Hence the name of the book.

George was vindicated when the reopened inquest into the death of Ahmed Timol during detention reversed the earlier decision and found that Ahmed Timol had been tortured and killed by his interrogators. During his spare time George Bizos played a crucial role at the Saheti School which he helped to establish.

Who would have thought that a 13 year old World War II refugee from Greece would grow up to play such a pivotal role in his adopted country at the southern tip of Africa.Our condolences go out to his family.

Hamba kahle Comrade George Bizos – Rest in peace.

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