The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

Arrest at the South Africa Consulate

“With courtesy to us as two white ladies, [South African Consul Van Rooyen] tried to stretch a veil of harmony and good sense over his country’s violent repression of the Blacks. Yet, in South Africa itself, imprisonment, torture, or death is the going price for criticism of the government such as we have exercised here.”
-Genevieve Vaughan in a press release on the dismissal of her charges, 1985

In February 1985, Sissy Farenthold and Genevieve Vaughan visited the South African consulate in Houston to challenge the country’s policies on apartheid. They met with the consul for an hour and a half and called for the release of Nelson Mandela. They also asked for his wife, Winnie Mandela, to be sent as a delegate to the U.N. Conference on Women to be held in Nairobi, Kenya later that year (F. Farenthold and G. Vaughan, personal communication, July 28, 2011).

When the consul realized they were affiliated with protest groups, he asked them to leave. They refused and were subsequently arrested for criminal trespassing. Their trial was scheduled for June 1985, but when the consul refused to testify, the district attorney dropped the charges.

The following documents include Farenthold’s court records and press releases by Farenthold and Vaughan after charges were dropped:

Prisoner Property Receipt, February 1985
Bond Receipt, February 1985
Motion to Dismiss, June 1985
Farenthold Press Release, June 1985
Vaughan Press Release, June 1985

More information on these documents

Farenthold and Vaughan talk about their arrest in a July 2011 interview with the Rapoport Center:

View the transcript.