Frances Baard

Names: Baard, Frances

Born: 1901, Beaconsfield, Kimberley, Northern Cape (then Cape Province), South Africa

Died: 1997, Mabopane, Gauteng, South Africa

In summary: Organiser of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League and Trade Unionist.

Frances “MaBaard” Baard was born in 1901 in Kimberley, Northern Cape. She worked as a domestic servant and then as a teacher but became militant as a result of her experiences of oppression and exploitation in South Africa. As a budding activist she drew her influence from Raymond Mhlaba and Ray Alexander.

During the 1952 Defiance Campaign, she was an organiser of the African National Congress (ANC) Women's League, and later became secretary and treasurer of the League's Port Elizabeth branch. She was also national treasurer of the Women's League and on the executive committee of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in the mid-1950s.

Baard was actively involved with the drafting of the Freedom Charter in 1955 and played a leading role in the Women’s march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, to protest against the pass laws.

In 1956, she was also defendant in the Treason Trial and became a member of the executive committee of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). She was detained in 1960 and again in 1963 when she was held for 12 months in solitary confinement. In 1964, she was sentenced to five years imprisonment for ANC activities and in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act.

After her release in 1969, she was banned and restricted to Mabopane near Pretoria. In the 1980s, Frances worked with the United Democratic Front (UDF), a body that was formed bringing together civic workers, churches and other organisations to oppose the introduction of Botha’s Tricameral Parliament.

MaBaard died in 1997.

In June 2001, the "Diamantveld District Council" was renamed Frances Baard District Municipality in her honour.