Weary Bizos thankful Mandela had dignified death in presence of family

2013-12-06 16:06

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Nelson Mandela’s friend and lawyer George Bizos has not had a lot of sleep after being warned that his friend was unlikely to make it past last night.

And although he went to bed around 1am, his telephone did not stop ringing.

Signs of fatigue were evident when he fell asleep twice and lost his train of thought during interviews about his late friend.

Bizos, who was one of the lawyers who represented Mandela at the Rivonia trial, which ended in his imprisonment for life, remembered Mandela as an “architect of democracy”.

He said that although he was saddened by Madiba’s death, “I had to accept that none of us is immortal”.

He also received regular reports from Graça Machel that her husband’s condition was “getting worse and worse”.

Bizos suspected that something was the matter with Madiba when he received a message upon his return home yesterday, from one of the Nelson Mandela Foundation staff members.

“There was no permanent solution to what he was suffering from but nevertheless life is sweet. He was very well looked after. His death did not come as a surprise,” said Bizos.

“I was saddened, and had to keep tears back ... I thought that he had a dignified death in the presence of his family at his home, not (in) a hospital bed.”

Mandela was a man with a sense of humour, he said, who never quarrelled with him in all the 60 years they had known each other.

Bizos said Mandela knew that violence begat violence, and that there was nothing to gain from the use of violence.

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