President Hage Geingob yesterday paid tribute to the anti-apartheid stalwart and South African human rights lawyer George Bizos following his death on Wednesday.
He was 92. Geingob lauded Bizos as a courageous defender of justice who stood firm on the side of rights and freedom for the black majority in South Africa and the region. “With the death of George Bizos, South Africa has lost a giant. I extend sincere condolences to my dear brother, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Bizos family, the African National Congress and the fraternal people of the Republic of South Africa. May his soul rest in peace,” said Geingob. Leader of the official opposition, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venaani described Bizos as a giant for his contribution to creating a better and more just world for all. “Advocate Bizos’s dedication undoubtedly assisted the mirroring of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy. His commitment to human rights after 1994 South Africa’s constitution helped draft the country’s supreme law,” Venaani said. In addition, he said, Bizos also defended the late Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai against treason charges in 2003. “As a defender of the people, his labour was upright and honourable. His mind was razor sharp and has inspired many across the globe. Our hearts are filled with sorrow for the loss and our thoughts are with the people of South Africa and the Bizos family,” he said. During the apartheid years, Bizos dedicated his life to fighting for human rights, freedom and democracy. After the dawn of democracy, he continued his efforts to ensure that all South Africans equally enjoy those rights enshrined and guaranteed by the constitution. In his legal career, Bizos has represented many political activists in high-profile trials. He was a member of the ANC defence team in the Rivonia trial where Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others faced the death penalty. In addition, Bizos acted as counsel in numerous political trials, such as that of Bram Fischer and the inquests of Steve Biko, Ahmed Timol and Neil Agget. He also represented the families of stalwarts of the liberation struggle at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the leader of the team to oppose applications for amnesty on behalf of the Biko, Hani, Goniwe, Calata, Mkonto, Mhlauli, Slovo and Schoon families. He gained prominence through arguments in cases that were driven by the apartheid regime in its quest to derail the freedom struggle. These cases thrust Bizos in the public eye and also made him an enemy of the apartheid regime. - Additional reporting by SAnews.gov.za