‘Billy Paddock inspired courage’

2014-11-12 00:00

APARTHEID activist and photographer Billy Paddock, the man behind the iconic 1986 image of a black man riding Durban’s apartheid bus, has been hailed as an unsung hero.

The image went viral last month.

Nhlahla Dlamini, the man in the photograph featured in The Witness last month, said he and Paddock had planned to ride a “white’s only” bus in a protest action. Paddock captured an iconic moment in South African history, his wife, Carolyn McGibbon, said yesterday.

“He was on a mission to let people know what was happening under the apartheid government and believed the visual image was a powerful tool for getting that message across.”

Paddock lived in Glenwood with McGibbon and their daughter before he was killed in a car accident a month after the first democratic elections. So entrenched was their activism that they named their daughter Ro after American civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the European revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.

McGibbon said Paddock was of great integrity, had an incisive political intellect and a heart for social change. “He was a courageous person and inspired others to be courageous,” she said.

“Billy and I were part of a huge groundswell. We believed the actions we took could actually change the course of history,” she said.

She said her husband was fearless in documenting the unfolding changes and had been subjected to police surveillance.

“In one year, he was arrested by the police 10 times. As soon as he arrived on the scene as a photojournalist he was arrested. We were one of the few white families who suffered under apartheid and were harassed by the security police,” she said.

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