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Tuesday, December 12, 2023



(Above: George Bizos. Pic supplied)

M-Net to flight documentary on struggle Icon George Bizos, the advocate who represented Mandela honoured in compelling film.

This Reconciliation Day (Saturday, December 16), M-Net is proud to broadcast George Bizos: Icon, a documentary about the late Greek-South African human rights lawyer, on Saturday, December 16 at 22h00. The documentary will give viewers an intimate look at the life and work of one of South Africa’s most prominent struggle figures and gives them an opportunity to learn about the man that helped shape our democracy.

Directed by Jane Thandi Lipman and Peter Goldsmid, the documentary interviews the likes of former president Thabo Mbeki, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, as well as Bizos’s children and grandchildren. It’s a fitting tribute to a man who legally represented the likes of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu.

Viewers will get a glimpse of the man behind the indomitable advocate the public saw in the press. Bizos (1927-2020) was an avid gardener with a passion for nature. He’s quoted as saying that though his cross-examination of witnesses in court might have sounded spontaneous, he’d tried his questions out on his plants in the early morning.

Says senior counsel advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who worked with Bizos: “We would be sitting in the front of his house, and he would just leave us to water the plants or do something in the garden ….  and he would come back and say, ‘that’s it, I’ve got the answer!’’

As an advocate for political prisoners held at the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg (now the site of South Africa’s Constitutional Court) he would take salads and fruits from his garden to give to his clients.

Viewers will also learn about Bizos the boy, who came to South Africa on a boat as a refugee from Greece. His first impressions of South Africa when he stepped off the vessel in Durban would become emblazoned in his mind and shape the human rights advocate, he would become: “Black men pulling rickshaws – as poor as some of the villagers in Greece were. There wasn’t such poverty or lack of humanity to people the way that I saw in Durban,” Bizos said.

Bizos would go on to represent freedom fighters in some of South Africa’s most historic legal events, including the Rivonia trial and Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

It’s said that he instructed Mandela to add the qualification "if needs be" to his trial address during the Rivonia Trial, which is credited with sparing him from a sentence of death.

Post-democracy, Bizos participated in drawing up South Africa’s Interim Constitution and was appointed by Mandela to the Judicial Services Commission. He led the team for the South African Government to argue that the death penalty was unconstitutional. Later, he would represent the families of some of the miners who were killed by South African police during the 2012 Marikana massacre.

Carefully put together and balancing both the political and the private, George Bizos: Icon is a must-watch for South Africans.

George Bizos: Icon will be available on Catch Up from Friday, December 15, and broadcast on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Saturday, December 16 at 22h00. It will also be live streamed on DStv Stream.

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