Tributes pour in for struggle lawyer George Bizos
Tributes have been pouring in for former apartheid struggle stalwart and human rights lawyer George Bizos.
Bizos died on Wednesday at the age of 91 after a period of poor health. According to his family, he died at home of natural causes.
Bizos was part of the legal teams of the treason and Rivonia trials, defending the rights of activists against apartheid including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.
According to SA History Online, Bizos also appeared at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), representing families of liberation heroes such as Steve Bantu Biko, Chris Hani and the Cradock Four.
In a statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was deeply saddened by the news.
“This is sad news for all of us as South Africans. George Bizos contributed immensely to the attainment of our democracy. He worked very closely with Nelson Mandela, Arthur Chaskalson and many others. He had an incisive legal mind and was one of the architects of our constitution.
“We have lost a monumental figure in our history, a patriot who marched with us to freedom and laid the foundations for a democratic SA in which the rule of law affirms the dignity, rights and protection of all who live in SA,” said Ramaphosa.
The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) mourned the loss of Bizos, saying he spent his life fighting injustice and prejudice.
“We remember him for the critical role he played as SA transitioned to democracy in the 1990s, and for the contribution that he made towards SA’s interim constitution and the bill of rights,” said the university. “Rest in peace Advocate Bizos, knowing that you have left a lasting legacy in gifting freedom to our people, reassured that you have spent your life in the service of humanity, and comforted that you were courageous to pursue the truth and fight for justice when it mattered the most.”
On social media, many, including the EFF and the DA's John Steenhuisen, expressed their condolences.
Here is a snapshot of what they had to say about Bizos.
Sad to hear the news of the passing of George Bizos. An advocate and champion for human rights, as well as a giant of the struggle for freedom in South Africa. A life of activism and service well lived. My sincerest condolences to his family. #RIPGeorgeBizos— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) September 9, 2020
EFF Passes Condolences on The Passing of George Bizos pic.twitter.com/nf84bI698S— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) September 9, 2020
Deeply saddened by the passing on of yet another giant tree. A human rights champion who played a vital role in drafting our country’s Constitution. We will remember Advocate George for his selfless contribution to South Africa & unrelenting fight for equality. #RIPGeorgeBizos pic.twitter.com/GdLaG36eIe— David Makhura (@David_Makhura) September 10, 2020
17 November 2018. An afternoon sharing spanakopita and stories. I left with my heart smiling and my spirit nurtured. And so relieved he liked the pie....specially made...#RIPGeorgeBizos pic.twitter.com/deO90ZQQvL— Penny Peppa (@PennyPeppa) September 10, 2020
Equal Education and @EElawcentre are deeply saddened by the passing of George Bizos. He was a valiant defender of human rights to whom much is owed. He will remain a leading light for generations of young lawyers and human rights activists in our country.— Equal Education (@equal_education) September 9, 2020
What a loss. A giant has fallen. I’ve admired his work for years. I remember walking into a coffee shop at Gandhi Square, after I saw him while passing by, just to greet him and he was so gracious and kind. Condolences to family and friends... #RIPGeorgeBizos pic.twitter.com/C23bMcrUPq— Mpho Letsholonyane (@M_Letsholonyane) September 10, 2020
Many years ago, in a Woolies queue, Nt. Bizos stood behind me. As soon as I noticed him I said please sir, stand in front of me. He thanked me and inside I was like omg thank youuu tho. I think think rest of the queue followed suit + he went to the front. #RIPGeorgeBizos— milisuthando, the film (@missmillib) September 10, 2020
#RIPGeorgeBizos I was blessed to have been in the presence of both these gentle giants. And dear George Bizos ..Uncle George to many ...humble, gentle & so very wise. Even his frailty couldn’t stop him sharing special moments & words with me. A blessing cherished forever. 💕 🙏 pic.twitter.com/YadYxLfGsN— Mariana J.Fernandes 🌱 (@marianajfe) September 10, 2020
Such sad news 💔 Rest in Power George Bizos.— Crystal Arnold (@Crystal_Arnold) September 10, 2020
My greatest privilege amidst all the powerful and memorable interviews I’ve conducted was to interview this larger than life freedom fighter. This #brownskingirl appreciated him more every day since and most today. #RIPGeorgeBizos