In 2015, Meshack Mabuza – then a private security guard – was posted to the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Johannesburg. It was there he met George Bizos – the man who inspired him to study law and, as Mabuza describes it, changed his life. The two shared a special bond and speaking in the wake of Bizos' death age 92 on Wednesday night, Mabuza – currently in his final year of studies – said on Thursday he only wished Bizos had lived to see him graduate. He recalled their last meeting, just before lockdown. Bizos' door was always open...
In 2015, Meshack Mabuza – then a private security guard – was posted to the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Johannesburg. It was there he met George Bizos – the man who inspired him to study law and, as Mabuza describes it, changed his life.

The two shared a special bond and speaking in the wake of Bizos' death age 92 on Wednesday night, Mabuza – currently in his final year of studies – said on Thursday he only wished Bizos had lived to see him graduate.

He recalled their last meeting, just before lockdown.

Bizos' door was always open for Mabuza and he had gone to visit him at the LRC offices – where Bizos continued to work even after his health started deteriorating in 2018 – to show him his latest results.

"He was so proud of me. He told me I'd make a great lawyer," Mabuza said, his voice heavy with emotion.

Their very first exchange, Mabuza said, had been at the reception of the LRC.

"I saw him coming in so I rushed to the door to open it for him and greet him. And the way he looked at me…" Mabuza said before his voice trailed off.

He paused for a moment and then said simply: "He was a lovely man."

The two became fast friends, with Mabuza describing it as "a privilege" to have been able to take care of Bizos.

He was fiercely protective over Bizos and even convinced the building's management to install surveillance cameras in his office, for fear of anything happening to him.

"But nothing ever did, everyone loved him," he said.

The two spent countless hours discussing everything from law to family to food.

"He loved spinach, there was a man who sold vegetables just outside the offices and he used to buy spinach from him every day," Mabuza said laughing.

From security guard to lawyer: George Bizos was 'my greatest inspiration'


Meshack Mabuza and George Bizos. Picture Supplied.

It was during these discussions, that Bizos started encouraging Mabuza to study law.

"One day he said, 'You are very young, you need to do something with your life. Why don't you become a lawyer?'

"At first I thought it was impossible but he convinced me it wasn't and that I could do it," Mabuza said.

So the father of two – then in his mid-thirties – decided to register for an LLB with the University of South Africa and to study while he was working.

He spent three years at the LRC before he received a new posting but even after he moved on, Mabuza and Bizos stayed in touch.

"I would pop in whenever I missed him. His PA would let me in and we would just sit and talk," he said.

"It was like the voice of God would talk through him, he taught me so much but above all that no matter how difficult life got, I had to keep pushing."

Bizos encouraged Mabuza to study media law and international human rights law and that's exactly what the now 39-year-old did.

He said once his studies were complete that he wanted to dedicate his life to fighting for media freedom – something Bizos was passionate about.

"I just want to honour him," Mabuza said. "He was a simple person but he was my greatest inspiration and the light at the end of the tunnel in my life."

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