There's no doubt George Bizos is gutsy and strong: a white man from Greece to seeking refuge during World War II, who became part of South Africa's moral compass.
It was his 90th birthday yesterday, and here are four reasons to wish him many more:
1. The Anti-Apartheid Lawyer
Bizos arrived in South Africa from Greece as a World War II refugee, and later studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He then thrust himself into human rights issues, supporting the liberation movements fighting the injustices of the apartheid regime.
He went on to represent ANC struggle heroes Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, among others, at both the 1956-61 treason trial, at which they were declared not guilty, and the "Rivonia" treason trial from 1963-64, which resulted in Mandela and Sisulu's long incarceration on Robben Island.
The struggle stalwart has written three books, including "65 Years Of Friendship", in which he tells the story of the relationship he shared with Mandela.
2. The Voice Of The Victim
Bizos represented families of assassinated struggle heroes Steve Bantu Biko, Chris Hani and the Cradock Four during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In the commission's deliberations, his legal expertise and arguments were instrumental in blocking amnesty applications made by the perpetrators of these murders.
3. The International Inspiration
Bizos has received tremendous recognition worldwide for his stellar legal and human-rights career. His accolades include the International Bar Association's prestigious Bernard Simons Memorial Award, and the annual Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award presented by South Africa's General Council of the Bar. In 1999, he received the Order for Meritorious Service Class II medal, presented in person by his old friend, then-President Nelson Mandela.
4. The History Corrector
Recently, Bizos was involved in the team that secured justice for the family of another struggle icon, Ahmed Timol.
Timol was murdered in custody by apartheid Security Police in 1971, but his death was covered up and ruled a suicide by apartheid authorities, despite evidence to the contrary.
It took 46 years, but earlier this year Bizos and his team managed to overturn that ruling in a new inquest. The record now reflects that that Timol was, in fact, tortured and beaten to death by his interrogators.