Story and photographs by Laura Pisanello
Advocate, human rights activist and anti-apartheid stalwart George Bizos celebrated his 90th birthday by hosting a gala dinner to raise money for the South African Hellenic Educational and Technical Institute (Saheti School).
The dinner, held at Inanda Club on November 16, saw 400 people joining to celebrate the momentous occasion.
Money raised from a raffle and an art auction held on the evening was donated to the George Bizos Saheti Scholarship and Bursary Fund.
A new scholarship, the Arethe Daflos-Bizos Arts Scholarship, was also announced on the evening. The scholarship honours Bizos’ late wife.
Bizos, a beloved advocate who represented numerous struggle stalwarts during the Rivonia trial, was praised throughout the evening by family members and friends alike.
Prominent guests including Lindiwe Sisulu, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and Tokyo Sexwale shared their birthday wishes for Bizos during the celebration.
“We will never be able to thank you for the friendship which saw our parents through very difficult times and the support you provided for our parents,” said Sisulu, whose father, Walter Sisulu, was represented by Bizos during the Rivonia trial. “Thank you for your service to our country and our people – it has been truly enormous.”
Mogoeng delivered the keynote speech, highlighting the remarkable friendship between Bizos and Nelson Mandela and their invaluable contributions to South Africa.
“I cannot stop wondering what would have become of South Africa had we not been blessed with men and women like George Bizos,” said Mogoeng.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the history of South Africa would be incomplete without a mention of George Bizos.
“You have lived your life well and in the most exemplary way. You chose to anchor your life on values and principles in a universal application. You chose to be a champion of human rights and to pursue what is right, however inconvenient and risky.”
One of Bizos’ favourite artists, Sibongile Khumalo, performed during the evening, providing unforgettable entertainment for guests.
Artists including Penny Siopis, William Kentridge and Clive van den Berg donated some of their artworks to be auctioned off on the evening.