As LSE prepares to host acclaimed human rights lawyer George Bizos on 5 October, this is a perfect time to revisit his distinguished career as a human rights lawyer during South Africa’s 50-year struggle against apartheid.
George Bizos, who will talk about Hellenism, Universal Rights and Apartheid at LSE on 5 October, is synonymous with South Africa’s long struggle against apartheid.
The 82-year-old played a role in all the major trials during the apartheid era defending former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sissulu among others.
Mr Mandela described him as “a man who combined a sympathetic nature with an incisive mind”.
Bizos was born in Greece in 1928. He left the German-occupied country in 1941 during World War 2 in a fishing boat with his father. He ended up in Johannesburg, going on to study law at Wits University.
It was while at Wits that Bizos became politicised. He went on to be involved in all the major trials during the apartheid era including the Treason trial, the Rivonia trial, the inquests into the death of activist Ahmed Timol, Steve Biko and Dr Neil Aggett, the Nusas five trial, and the Delmas trial.
He was also an advocate for Winnie Mandela in various trials from the late fifties through to the nineties.
After ANC came to power in 1994, Bizos turned down a seat in parliament, a judgeship and a cabinet position. He did accept a seat on South Africa’s Judicial Services Commission which recommends candidates for judicial office.
Bizos will offer a unique insight into defending human rights under apartheid in South Africa, while drawing on his own career as a human rights lawyer.