Top South African human rights lawyer George Bizos, best known for defending Nelson Mandela at his trials died Wednesday aged 92.
According to media reports, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his death, saying Bizos had “contributed immensely to our democracy”.
Ramaphosa went on to describe Bizos as an “incisive legal mind”, adding that his death was “very sad for us as a country.”
Bizos’ family said he died peacefully at home of natural causes.
While reacting to the news of his passing, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said “another giant of South African history and of global struggles for justice has fallen.”
Besides representing some of South Africa’s best known political activists during the apartheid years, Bizos was one of the architects of the country’s new constitution.
Widely known for his work with Mandela, Bizos met the former while studying law in Johannesburg.
Later, he was one of the lawyers who represented Mandela at his treason trial, which began in 1956.
Bizos also represented Mandela during the Rivonia Trial, when he and other anti-apartheid activists were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 on charges of seeking to overthrow the apartheid government.
After the end of apartheid, Bizos helped write South Africa’s new constitution.
He also represented families of anti-apartheid activists who were killed during apartheid at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Reports indicate that in one of his last major trials, he secured government pay-outs for families of 34 mine workers who were killed by South African police in 2012.