South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Interview Segment

Betty Davenport and Mary Burton interviewed by Ruendree Govinder
May 23, 2005 Cape Town, South Africa.


"In Cape Town, the world seemed to be divided into the people who were your friends ... and the people who were not... You very soon lost a group of friends ..." [3:00]

The Black Sash was an important source of support and friendship for many of its members, since many whites were hostile to their anti-apartheid activities.

Betty Davenport joined the Black Sash in Cape Town in 1955, where she participated in silent protests such as “stands” and “hauntings” of cabinet ministers. She moved to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape in 1965, where worked with the organization to monitor and publicize the many removals to remote, poverty-stricken areas of the Ciskei and to monitor detentions and provide support to detainees’ families. She and her husband Rodney Davenport, a historian of South Africa, provided a “safe house” for a number of people in the 1980s.

Mary Burton, born in Argentina, moved to South Africa in 1961 when she married a South African. She became active in the Black Sash in 1965 and served as its national president from 1985 to 1990. Burton became a South African citizen in 1994 and, in 1995, was appointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and served on its Human Rights Violations Committee.

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