Barney Zackon: Lawyer and activist who fought against apartheid

Barney Zackon was forced into exile in Britain, at 37, at the height of his career as a defence lawyer and political activist in apartheid South Africa. His courageous work as a Cape Town attorney arranging the defence of a flood of African insurrectionists in the critical years after the Sharpeville emergency in 1960 must have been behind the banning order served on him, with no reasons given, by the Justice Minister B.J. Vorster in March 1965.

The Government held all the cards: Zackon found that all too often the security police would simply select one or two accused in a large group and torture them until they agreed to turn state witness. Legal defence, and aid for destitute families, was funded by Canon Collins’s Defence and Aid Fund in London, via its South African counterpart, in which Zackon was active in the Cape. The banning order, under the Suppression of Communism Act, put paid to his legal work and to chairmanship (as a confirmed liberal) of the non-racial Liberal Party of South Africa in the Cape. He had inherited the latter post two years earlier from his banned predecessor and was in the firing line here, too. A Government MP, the guest speaker at a party forum, once taunted him: “How long have you been out of the ghetto?” Legislation brought the party to its end three years later.

Zackon came to England on an exit permit in mid-1966, to be followed by his family when he had found a home and a job. The job was with the solicitor Bernard Sheridan, who did much work for Collins’s Defence and Aid. He later served articles and qualified (with a Distinction in Land Law) as a solicitor in 1972. His firm, Zackon and Gilroy, was active in North London until 1991. Many clients became his friends and he and his wife Daphne, also an active Liberal in South Africa, retained their old political circle, formed during the bleakest days of apartheid. Gregarious, with a ready laugh and a love of cigars and good cognac, he was also happy to lead a quiet family life, with his books and visits fromfriends. A childhood polio victim, he remained physically active and was a strong swimmer. His last years were spent in the shadow of a long illness, bravely borne.

Randolph Vigne

Barney Zackon, lawyer, anti-apartheid activist: born Cape Town 6 August 1927; BA LLB University of Cape Town; attorney, Cape Town; Cape Province chair, Liberal Party of South Africa, 1963; South African Defence and Aid officer; solicitor in England, 1972-91; married 1949 Daphne Israel (two sons, one daughter); died London 25 May 2009.



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions