Nelson Mandela’s lawyer George Bizos dies aged 92

By BBC On Thu, 10 Sep, 2020 09:11 | < 1 min read
Nelson Mandela lawyer
George Bizos represented Nelson Mandela at the trial. PHOTO | AFP

Renowned South African human rights lawyer George Bizos has died. He was 92 years old.

Mr Bizos rose to prominence as a lawyer who represented the Rivonia Trialists, including Nelson Mandela.

He also played an integral role in drafting South Africa’s constitution.

Mr Bizos played a part in many of the key moments which formed South Africa’s democracy.

Born in 1927 in Greece, Mr Bizos arrived in South Africa as a World War II refugee with his father in 1941.

He wanted to study medicine, but his application was rejected, so he opted for a law degree. And that ignited his political activism, as a ferocious opponent of apartheid.

As a lawyer, Mr Bizos represented many high profile political activists. He was part of the team of lawyers at the Rivonia Trial which saw Mr Mandela and other top ANC colleagues sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

Mr Bizos is credited with adding the crucial words “if need be” to Mr Mandela’s famous speech at the trial, in which he said he was prepared to die for the struggle.

In his later years, Mr Bizos led the enquiry into the Marikana Massacre that saw the killing of 34 mine workers by South African police in 2012.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was a very sad moment for the country, that Mr Bizos would be sorely missed, but that South Africans would forever remember his contribution to democracy.

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