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Baard, Francina (1920—)

Baard, Francina (1920—)

South African activist. Name variations: Mrs. Frances Baard. Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1920; married (husband died in 1953); children.

A left-wing member and one-time leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Francina Baard was also a leading member of the Food and Canning Workers' Union and the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) Local and Management Committees. Baard, a former domestic servant and teacher, had joined the ANC in 1948 and was involved in organizing the ANC's Women's League. By 1952, she was secretary of the Women's League in Port Elizabeth.

In 1956, Baard was among the ANC's 156 members and allies—including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Lilian Ngoyi, Florence Matomela, Ida Mntwana, Bertha Mkize, Annie Silinga, Gert Sibande , and Ruth First —caught up in a government sweep backed by Afrikaner Nationalists. Accused of being members of a conspiracy inspired by international communism to overthrow the South African state by violence, they faced a preliminary Treason Trial that started on December 19, 1956, and dragged on until September 11, 1957. The Treason Trial then opened in Pretoria on August 1, 1958, with 91 accused. By April of that year, of the 156 arrested, only 30 remained on trial until March 29, 1961. Eventually release was won for all, but only temporarily. In 1963, Baard was again charged under the Suppression of Communism Act (which had made the Communist Party illegal) and held in jail in solitary confinement for one year before her trial; after which, she was imprisoned for five more years. Released in 1969, she was "endorsed out" to Mabopane. A South African government euphemism for driving Africans out of urban areas to reserves, "endorsed out" also meant splitting up families. Baard's children, who had remained behind in Port Elizabeth, were soon evicted from the city.

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