Tuesday 20 March 2012

Born in Buenos Aires in 1940, Burton emigrated from Argentina to South Africa in 1961. In the subsequent 50 years she was involved first in the struggle for human rights in South Africa, then in national reconciliation in the post-Apartheid era. She has exceptional leadership qualities, displayed over several decades at the highest levels of organisations committed to human rights and civil liberties. These include the Black Sash, which she joined in 1965 and in which she served as president from 1986 to 1990; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in which she served as a commissioner in the Human Rights Violations Committee from 1995 to 1998; and various other bodies, such as the Surplus Peoples Project, the National Council of Women, the Civil Rights League and the SA Institute of Race Relations. In 2000 she helped launch the Home for All Campaign, which called on white South Africans to contribute to reconciliation in recognition of the benefit and privilege they had had under Apartheid. In 2003, the Order of Luthuli (Silver) was conferred upon her by President Thabo Mbeki. The following year she received the highest provincial award, the Order of Disa, conferred by Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool, and the Reconciliation Award, conferred by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Mary Burton lecture at CAS 20 March 2012 from CAS@UCT on Vimeo.