President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his condolences to the family and friends of the late renowned human rights lawyer George Bizos. Bizos passed today at the age of 92 after a period of poor health.

He was part of the legal teams of the Treason and Rivonia trials in 1956 and 1964 respectively, defending the rights of activists against apartheid including Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and Walter Sisulu amongst others.

“He was also one of the architects of our constitution and contributed immensely and he will sorely be missed and we dip our head in honour of the contribution that George Bizos has made to our democracy, we will forever remember his contribution,” says President Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he last spoke with Bizos two months ago: 

 

Bizos was a refugee of World War two, arriving on South African shores with his father at the tender age of 13.  He was born on 14 November 1927 in a tiny seaside village in Southern Greece.

In his adopted country, South Africa, he went on to become one of our most acclaimed human rights lawyers. Bizos also represented the families of activists killed in police detention including black consciousness leader Steve Biko.

He played a critical role in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy and had a hand in the drafting of the interim constitution and the Bill of Rights. He continued his work well beyond retirement age, most notably as the head of one of the legal teams representing the deceased Marikana miners.

Representative for the Nelson Mandela Foundation Luzuko Koti says Bizos fought for justice his whole life.

“We have seen that not only in the Rivonia Trial which is the most famous trial that people will remember him for but for the cases he represented, the people of Marikana. He continued to seek justice for everyone, for the down-trodden, for the poor, for those whose voices were not heard by the powers that be and we need that kind of cadreship today more than ever.”

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation says it is saddened by Bizos’ death.

Below are tributes for Bizos: