Our Hellenic community, and indeed South Africa lost a formidable figure with the passing of George Bizos, or as he was fondly called by the people, “Uncle George”.

George Bizos was a proud Hellene and an equally proud South African. He never wavered in his belief in respecting human rights and preserving the dignity of all people irrespective of background, race, gender, political or religious belief. He was a driving force behind the establishment of the community’s dream of creating SAHETI School, the community’s dream for a Greek School in South Africa, and one of the founder members that established the Modern Greek chairs at the University of the Witwarsrand. He was also a loyal supporter of the Greek Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen.

He was a man of peace and a protector of the South African constitution and an advocate of human rights in South Africa. He was awarded the Order for Meritorious Service by the President of the Republic. He was also South African Ambassador to the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. The Hellenic government awarded him the Order of Phoenix and made him an Honorary Ambassador of Hellenism which is a prestigious international recognition.

In addition, George Bizos was honoured by our community by being named an Honorary Member of the Federation and an Honorary Life Vice President of SAHETI. The Patriarchate of Alexandria bestowed on Bizos not only the cross of St Mark but also the position of Archon of the Patriarchate. He was recognized by many different governments and organisations for his work and contributions to human rights.

READ MORE: South Africa’s Greek ‘legal eagle’ and Mandela’s lifelong friend George Bizos passes on

It is universally recognized that George Bizos was a hero of the common people, the epitome of ethical leadership, a humanitarian and a warrior for the rights of the individual. We salute the memory of this man. Currently arrangements are being made for his funeral which will be by invitation only as per the COVID-19 restrictions. A memorial service by the federation will be announced shortly. The intention is to livestream the service on all social media.

The family have requested that members of the community should rather donate the funds they would use for flowers to the George Bizos Saheti Scholarship and Bursary Fund the details of which are listed as follows: The George Bizos SAHETI Scholarship & Bursary Fund, First National Bank, Account 62842065155 Code 252155, Reference (name of donor) G. Bizos.

President John Philippou, Secretary Costa Kolatsis of the Hellenic Federation of South Africa