Johannesburg - Veteran human rights lawyer George Bizos received an award from the Free Market Foundation (FMF) at a ceremony in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Greek-born Bizos was honoured by the local think tank “for his fearless defence of South Africa's struggle heroes, his tenacious fight for freedom and justice and his dedication to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law”.
He was in a jovial mood at the ceremony, quipping, “are you here to cross-examine me?” as he ran into retired judge Mervyn King who was among his life-long friends who attended the event.
The FMF is a non-profit organisation created to work for a non-racial, free and prosperous South Africa.
Bizos said he met former president Nelson Mandela while studying at Wits University at the height of apartheid. He would later represent Mandela and fellow anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu at the Rivonia trial.
Bizos described himself as someone who strove for freedom.
“I became radicalised at Wits as a lover of freedom. Freedom has always been part and parcel of my life,” he said.
“I told people if wanting equal treatment for black students makes me a leftist, then I am proud to be one. At that time, my father was asked to rein in the young Bizos to which he answered:
'It is not for me to tell him what to do'. And the rest is history.”