Late George Bizos remembered as human rights crusader and legal powerhouse

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said that South Africa was poorer without Bizos.

FILE: Veteran human rights lawyer George Bizos passed away on 9 September, aged 92. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Family, close friends and associates of the late George Bizos continued to honour him with fond memories after the veteran human rights lawyer died on Wednesday at the age of 92.

In one of his many interviews with Eyewitness News, Bizos was clear he never wanted to be a politician.

“I was offered a political job and I didn’t want it. I was offered a judiciary job and I did not want it. And we have a good history of a strong judiciary,” he said.

Obituary: George Bizos - Human rights crusader and legal powerhouse

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said that South Africa was poorer without Bizos.

The president said that the renowned human rights lawyer played a vital part in the drafting of South Africa’s Constitution.

“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,” Ramaphosa said.

WATCH: George Bizos was one of the architects of our constitution - Ramaphosa


For legal giants like Advocate Dali Mpofu, Bizos was more than a mentor.

Mpofu, who often worked with the anti-apartheid crusader, remembered him for his relentless strength.

The two were introduced during Mpofu’s early days in the legal field and he said that Bizos was never short of stories to tell.

“When I was an article clerk in the mid-80s and he did the Delmas trial, I was working for one of the instructing attorneys... so I used to have the pleasure to drive with him from Joburg to Delmas and listen to all his stories,” Mpofu said.

Mpofu described Bizos as a pillar of strength and an insightful thinker.

The legal powerhouse led the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) legal team at the inquiry into the 2012 Marikana massacre.

Mpofu said that Bizos wanted to see justice for the miners and their families.

“The final time that I worked with him was of course in the Marikana Commission where we were there almost on a daily basis for a number of years. He was obviously a pillar for all of us who were involved in that matter… we derived much strength from him,” he said.

A gentle giant and human rights champion, Mpofu said that he drew critical life and professional lessons from Bizos.

LISTEN: Paying tribute to a giant - George Bizos’ obituary


At the same time, many others also remembered Bizos’ selfless contribution to this country as well.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said that Bizos practiced his legal profession to ensure justice for political and freedom fighters.

“In 1996, Advocate George Bizos represented comrade Chris Hani, Steve Biko, [and] Fort Calata against the State as it was applying for amnesty for its atrocious deeds,” Mabe said.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said that he had the honour of spending time with Bizos and former President Nelson Mandela.

EFF spokesperson Delisile Ngwenya said that the red berets remembered Bizos for taking a stand against the apartheid government and advocating for late struggle hero Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

“Even when the UDF issued a statement that no lawyer must act on behalf of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela regarding the allegations of abduction and assault against her, it was Bizos who disagreed and went on to consult with her because his revolutionary conscious could not accept the injustice meted out against her,” Ngwenya said.

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