It is with profound sadness that we receive the news of the passing of Uncle George Bizos a longstanding brother, beloved friend, trusted confidante and loyal counsel to my grandfather, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
How do we do justice to the memory of one about whom Madiba himself said: “in my absence he was a father to my family and children. It is for that reason that the name George Bizos carries a particular sentiment that will never be forgotten.”
Indeed the annals of our country’s proud history will recall his humble beginnings and difficult upbringing as the crucible that shaped one of the most legendary legal minds that our country has produced and if needs be, we would proudly stand by the claim that he was probably one of finest legal minds the modern world has produced.
His is an epic tale rich with history defining moments that wove George Bizos into the tapestry of glory that rightfully etched his name as a stalwart of stalwarts. A simple recollection of his role as part of the legal counsel representing icons of our struggle for decades will not do justice to his collosal stature.
The list of those for whom he acted as legal counsel and for their families is a veritable roll of honour of the greats of our struggle: Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Steve Bantu Biko, Chris Hani, Mathew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkonto, Sicelo Mhlawuli, Ahmed Timol and numerous others. He represented my grandfather and Xhamela (Walter Sisulu) in both the Treason and Rivonia Trials.
A gentle soul whose penetrating gaze reflected the profound depth of his passion for justice and upholding human rights and dignity for all. A paragon of humility yet he was collosal in his defense of justice and the anti-apartheid struggle at a time when doing so was unpopular and posed a threat to his life and well-being. That never fazed or dissuaded him from his pursuit of justice; and history crowned his efforts in glory.
We will always love him and his gallant memory will always occupy a special place in our hearts and minds. Uncle George once described Rivonia Trial state prosecutor “little” Percy Yutar as “thirsty for friendship” as those who stand on the wrong side of history ultimately always are. Not our departed and dearly beloved Cde George Bizos hero of heroes, stalwart of stalwarts and forever dearly beloved to our family, our struggle, our nation and all who stood for justice in the global anti-apartheid movement.
Our prayers and thoughts are with his children, family and loved ones in this hour of their bereavement. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his colleagues in the legal profession and especially those who follow in his footsteps offering legal counsel and access to justice to those in need.
You will never be forgotten.
Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council and grandson of famed South African President Nelson Mandela. Member of Parliament (MP) South Africa National Assembly. All articles by Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela