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Thanks to his work in the Rivonia trial in 1963, Nelson Mandela got rid of the death penalty.
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa Thursday bid gave the last farewell to anti-apartheid activist George Bizos, who became a symbol of the fight against the racist regime that the white minority imposed between 1948 and 1994.
"A great tree has fallen. A tree that gave shade to the patriots who founded our great nation and sheltered the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable," Ramaphosa said of Bizos, who died eight days ago at age 92.
After a special official funeral, his mortal remains were interred in the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg, the country's capital.
Born in Greece in 1927, George Bizos came to South Africa at age 13 as a refugee from World War II. Internationally, he became famous for defending anti-apartheid leaders like Walter Sisulu and Chris Hani.
Thanks to his work in the Rivonia trial in 1963, Nelson Mandela got rid of the death penalty, although he was punished for life imprisonment.
"I don't think words are enough to express our debt to men and women like George Bizos," Mandela said.
With the arrival of democracy in South Africa in 1994, Bizos took part in the development of the new constitution and other laws. He was also a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose mission was to study the crimes of apartheid.