About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Bizos, George

Former Anti-Apartheid and Human Rights Lawyer

George Bizos was born in 1928 in Kirani, Greece. In 1941, when he was 13, he arrived in South Africa as a World War 2 refugee together with his father. In 1950 he completed his law degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. . In 1954 he was admitted to the Johannesburg Bar. He served as an Advocate in Johannesburg until 1990 when he worked as a counsel to 40 lawyers at the Legal Resources Centre and the Constitutional Litigation Unit. During the apartheid years Bizos dedicated his working life to fighting for basic human rights. After the collapse of apartheid he turned his fight into ensuring that all South Africans equally enjoy those rights enshrined and guaranteed by the constitution.

In his legal career he has represented many political activists in high profile political trials. He represented both Water Sisulu and Nelson Mandela in the Treason and Rivonia trials. He represented the families of heroes of the liberation struggle at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and blocked amnesty applications made by the perpetrators of these murders.

In 1998 he published a book called 'No one to blame? In pursuit of Justice in South Africa'.

In 2004 Bizos represented Morgan Tsvangarai, president of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, who was charged with High Treason by the Zimbabwean government.

On 25 October 2004 he received the International Bar Association's (IBA) prestigious Bernard Simons Memorial Award in Auckland. On 3 November 2004 he received annual Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award from the General Council of the Bar.

Other Achievements and Positions held by Bizos.

Ø     1979 1993: acted as defence counsel in numerous high profile political trials, founding member of the National Council of Lawyers for Human Rights.

Ø     1982 1994: Senior Counsel at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg in the Constitutional Unit; member of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Applied Legal Studeis at the University of Witwatersrand.

Ø     1985 1993: Judge of the Court of Appeal in Botswana,

Ø     1994: Honorary Member of the Athens Bar.

Ø     1990 1994: Member of the ANC's Legal and Constitutional Committee.

Ø     1999: he received the Order for Meritorious Service Class II medal from then-president Nelson Mandela

Ø     A member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 1999.

Ø     Leader of the team for the Constituent Assembly before the Constitutional Court to certify the country's new Constitution

Ø     In 1994 he was appointed to the Judicial Services Commission to recommend candidates for judicial office and reforms to the judicial system

Sources: http://www.iatl.net/profile.asp?id=73

http://www.joburg.org.za/people/bizos.stm

http://www.lrc.org.za/Features/George_Bizos_art4.asp

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.