Human Rights Lawyer George Bizos Who Saved Nelson Mandela From A Death Sentence Has Died Aged 92

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Human Rights Lawyer George Bizos Who Saved Nelson Mandela From A Death Sentence Has Died Aged 92

Photo: Left, George Bizos: Wikimedia / Aya Chebbi; Right: Mandela addressing crowds at the Rivonia Trial: Peter Magubane


The lawyer who saved South African freedom fighter and national hero Nelson Mandela from a death sentence has passed away on the 9th of September 2020 aged 92.


George Bizos, the Greek-South African human rights lawyer was part of Mandela's legal defence team during his infamous Rivonia Trial where he was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.


Bizos was born in Messenia, Greece, in 1927 and lived through the Nazi occupation of the country. Escaping the country, Bizos went to South Africa. It was there at university in 1948 he met Mandela. Bizos would start to make his living as a lawyer with human rights cases referred to him by the man who would later become South African president.


At the time, South Africa was under the apartheid regime in which a white minority enjoyed full rights, while the black majority were kept segregated and oppressed, denied proper jobs, education, services and the right to associate freely with the white population.


During the Rivonia trial, nine anti-apartheid activists, including Mandela, were tried for sabotage against the state. Despite many believing that Mandela would be sentenced to death, he instead received a sentence of life imprisonment. Mandela was to spend the next 27 years in jail until his release following the collapse of the apartheid system.


After the trial, Bizos went on to establish a Greek school in South Africa called SAHETI and became a senior member of the Johannesburg bar in 1978. He later founded the National Council of Lawyers for Human Rights in 1979.


At the end of apartheid in 1990, and with the release of Mandela, Bizos joined the African National Congress (ANC) and helped draw up the South African constitution. He also helped oversee the Truth and Reconciliation Bill. Truth and Reconciliation was set up in order to bring together both the victims of injustice and the perpetrators of injustice as a way of healing wounds and moving the country forward. It was widely praised as an example of how countries and those suffering civil strife could create brighter, more tolerant futures. It has inspired similar processes in places such as Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia.


Bizos married Arethe Daflos who he met in 1948, and they had three sons together. She passed away in 2017.


Bizos will no doubt be remembered as a heroic fighter for justice who overcame obstacles and, by saving the life of South Africa's most famous politician, changed the course of world history for the better.

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Thinking Humanity: Human Rights Lawyer George Bizos Who Saved Nelson Mandela From A Death Sentence Has Died Aged 92
Human Rights Lawyer George Bizos Who Saved Nelson Mandela From A Death Sentence Has Died Aged 92
The lawyer who saved South African freedom fighter and national hero Nelson Mandela from a death sentence has passed away aged 92. George Bizos, the Greek-South African human rights lawyer was part of Mandela’s legal defence team during his infamous Rivonia Trial where he was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment. Bizos was born in Messenia, Greece, in 1927 and lived through the Nazi occupation of the country. Escaping the country, Bizos went to South Africa. It was there at university in 1948 he met Mandela.
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