Mandela’s treason trial lawyer dies at 92
Written by Taiwo Adediran on September 10, 2020
George Bizos, an anti-apartheid icon and renowned human rights lawyer who defended Nelson Mandela on treason charges for which he escaped the death penalty, died on Wednesday aged 92.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the rights lawyer’s passing during an online media briefing.
“This is very sad for our country,” he said.
Bizos died of natural causes at his Johannesburg home, his family said in a statement.
The celebrated lawyer represented Mandela during the Rivonia Trial which saw Mandela and seven others sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 on charges of seeking to overthrow the racist apartheid government.
Many had expected the death penalty.
Ramaphosa described Bizos as one of the lawyers who “contributed immensely to the attainment of our democracy”.
“He had an incisive legal mind and was one of the architects of our constitution,” the president said.
Bizos arrived in South Africa as a 13-year-old war refugee from Greece and became one of its most respected lawyers.
In a long career dedicated to defending democratic values and human rights, the soft-spoken Bizos represented a series of activists against the white minority regime and later helped to finalise the constitution of post-apartheid South Africa.
A beloved national figure, he continued working into his late 80s. One of his last major trials secured government payouts in 2014 for families of 34 miners shot dead by police at Marikana northwest of Johannesburg two years earlier.
Mandela foundation slams Trump over alleged diminishing comments
Written by Taiwo Adediran on September 8, 2020
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has hit back at disparaging comments attributed to US President Donald Trump about Black world leaders, including the late anti-apartheid hero and South Africa’s first Black president.
In a book to be published this week, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen alleges that the president described Mandela as a poor leader, according to the Washington Post which reported on Saturday that it had obtained a copy of the book.
According to the newspaper, Cohen wrote that following Mandela’s death in 2013, Trump said: “Mandela f***ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s***hole. F*** Mandela. He was no leader.”
Cohen also alleged that Trump said: “Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a s***hole. They are all complete f***ing toilets.”
In a statement on Monday, the foundation said it did not believe leaders conducting themselves in the way Trump did were “in position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work” of Mandela.
Using the Xhosa clan name by which Mandela was affectionately known, the statement added: “Reflecting on leadership, Madiba once said: ‘A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.’ We would recommend these words to Mr Trump for consideration.”