TRIBUTE | George Bizos: Farewell to a fighter for justice

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Advocate George Bizos at his 92nd birthday celebrations at Saheti School in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. (Sesona Ngqakamba,News24)
Advocate George Bizos at his 92nd birthday celebrations at Saheti School in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. (Sesona Ngqakamba,News24)

News24 columnists remember the life and times of human rights lawyer George Bizos as the country prepares to bid him farewell as he is buried on Thursday.

From an early age, George Bizos was exposed to what it meant to fight for justice. 

When he was just 13, he and his father left Greece after it was revealed that the Bizos family might face reprisals from the advancing Nazis for sheltering seven allied soldiers from New Zealand. 

After their boat was intercepted by an allied warship, Bizos and his father were eventually sent to South Africa in 1941, with the rest of the family only joining them in the 1950s. Bizos would only return back to Greece in 1971. 

Part of the reason of being unable to travel was that the human rights lawyer was initially denied citizenship by the apartheid government. It took Bizos 32 years to eventually get a passport. 

Enduring friendship

After completing his law degree at Wits University, Bizos would go on to form part of the legal team representing Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela at the Treason Trial in 1963. It was during this time that an enduring friendship that would last until Madiba's death, began.

Even after the end of apartheid, Bizos would continue to fight for justice, despite his advancing age. 

He appeared for several families at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including those of Steve Biko and Chris Hani. 

Bizos also appeared at inquests into the deaths of Neil Aggett, Ahmed Timol and Biko, as well as appearing at the Marikana commission for families of the dead mineworkers. 

Friend and mentor

While Bizos was described as devastating during cross-examination, he was seen by many as a friend, mentor and teacher. 

Bizos who was 92 when he died on 9 September, will be laid to rest in Johannesburg on Thursday. 

The funeral service will take place at the Greek Orthodox Church. Bizos will be buried in Westpark cemetery. 

In remembrance of George Bizos' life, you can read contributions from the News24 columnists below:

Ronnie Kasrils | George Bizos: A life lived in defence of justice and the downtrodden

Sello Hatang | 'Just call me George'

Dennis Davis | George Bizos: A true fighter for a society based on freedom

Zelda La Grange | George Bizos' separation from his friend Nelson Mandela is finally over

Mpumelelo Mkhabela | George Bizos: A man with an aversion to injustice

Tribute | George Bizos: A guiding light in the darkest of times

Tribute | The quest for justice: We owe it to the memory of giants like George Bizos

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