Mary Burton

Mary Burton (full name:  Maria Macdiarmid Ingouville Burton) was born in 1940 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in Parana and Rosario, and then in Sao Paulo, Brasil.  Her secondary school years were at Northlands School in Buenos Aires.  She spent two years in Europe, studying history and languages.   In 1961 she married Cape Town businessman Geoff Burton, and they have lived in South Africa since then.  They have 4 sons and 10 grandchildren. 

Burton soon joined the Black Sash, a women’s organisation opposed to apartheid, and various other civil and human rights organisations.  She served as the National President of the Black Sash from 1986 to 1990 and is currently its Patron.   In 1994 she was appointed to serve as the Provincial Electoral Officer for the Western Cape province in the country’s first national democratic elections in which all citizens could vote.  In 1995 she was appointed by then President Nelson Mandela as a Commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 


The Black Sash: Women for Justice and Peace, 2015. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2016