"In October 1941 a young boy and his father disembarked at Durbanharbour from a large liner commissioned into emergency service bythe Allies. They were Greek refugees from their German-occupiedmotherland. They spoke no English. They had little money and noprospects. They were heroes, but no one knew that.Some months earlier, father and son, together with two otherGreek men and seven New Zealand soldiers, had set off in an openboat in an attempt to escape the German invaders. For two days andnights, sailing by instinct and the stars, battered by fierce winds,their food stocks running low, their water bottles almost empty, theyploughed across the Mediterranean towards Crete, little knowingthat the island was soon to capitulate to the Germans.Fortunately the escapees sailed into an Allied fleet while it was stilllight and were rescued. Had they encountered the fleet in darknesstheir fate might have been dire, as, sometimes, in the horrors of warno prisoners were taken – a reality the young boy discovered notmany nights later.The boy who stood on the Durban docks, appalled at the sightof Zulu men doing the work of animals by pulling rickshaws, wouldbecome one of the leading human-rights lawyers in the country thathis father had chosen because the pavements were allegedly pavedwith gold. The boy was George Bizos.Today George Bizos is a legendary name, renowned throughout thelegal profession and beyond. More than that, he is a figure recognisedin townships across South Africa. For as an advocate, Bizos isassociated with the Treason Trial of the late 1950s; the subsequentRivonia Trial where his colleague, client and friend Nelson Mandelawas sentenced to life imprisonment; the trial of Bram Fischer; that ofthe Namibian Toivo ja Toivo; a host of major human-rights trials throughthe 1970s and 1980s right up to the amnesty hearings of the Truth andReconciliation Commission; and, in 2004, with the treason trial of theZimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in that country. A consummate lawyer, a self-styled street fighter with a quiet tone ofvoice and a beguiling smile who, in cross examination, would slicethrough the evidence of security police and apartheid apologistsalike, Bizos haunted the courtrooms of the apartheid regime. Forfour decades he exposed State lies and hypocrisy, State brutalityand murder. In response the State badgered and threatened him,bugged his phone, obstructed his hearings. But the advocate wasnot to be intimidated.In this compelling and long-awaited autobiography, George Bizosreveals the drama, the heartache and the moments of triumph, thefears and the frustrations of his long career as an advocate. He writes,moreover, about himself and his family, and the domestic momentsthat made bearable the brutal years. He revels in his return to hisbeloved Greece, his joy at the Athens Olympic Games and his love ofmodern Greek poetry.Above all, his is a warm and compassionate account, related bya raconteur of note. It is history told from the inside."
Penguin Random House South Africa; December 2011
- ISBN 9781415203088
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: Odyssey to Freedom
- Author: George Bizos