Donald Barkly Molteno (13 February 1908–1972), known as Dilizintaba
("He who removes mountains"), was a South African parliamentarian,
constitutional lawyer, champion of civil rights and a prominent
opponent of Apartheid.
1 Early life and legal career
2 Political career
3 Academic career and later life
5 Further reading
Early life and legal career
He was born on 13 February 1908 in Cape Town, in the then Cape
Province of South Africa, into a family with a long tradition of
political involvement and public service in the Cape (his grandfather,
John Molteno was its first Prime Minister).
Diocesan College and Cambridge University, where he
graduated in 1930 with Honours in Law and was called to the Bar at the
Inner Temple. After practising law for a time in London, he returned
South Africa in 1932 and was admitted as an advocate to the Bar of
the Cape Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa. He
was made a
Q.C. in 1952 and practised at the Cape Bar until 1964.
He was also President of the Cape Bar Council from 1961 to 1963.
Molteno was involved in anti-
Apartheid politics from a young age. In
1937 he was approached by the ANC, who asked him to represent them in
the House of Assembly.
He was elected a
Member of Parliament at the age of 29, representing
Western Cape constituency for 11 years until 1948. During this
time he was an exceptionally prominent and active MP in the
opposition. He was a member of the Civil Rights League, Cafda and the
Cape Joint Council of Europeans and Bantu. He was also the regional
representative on the
South African Institute of Race Relations
South African Institute of Race Relations in the
Western Cape in 1936, and was its president from 1958 to
It was partly due to his fight against the segregationalist policies
J. B. M. Hertzog
J. B. M. Hertzog that he acquired the Xhosa name Dilizintaba
("Remover of mountains").
He went on to become the first chairman of the Liberal Party of South
Africa's constitutional committee before he joined the Progressive
Party (South Africa) and became chairman of its constitutional policy
commission as well. He was also one of the Counsel engaged in the
constitutional cases questioning the powers of the Union Parliament of
South Africa after the passing of the Statute of Westminster in
Molteno was a supporter and the main legal advisor of the Black Sash
movement, from soon after it began in 1955. The movement later wrote
of him: "He taught us all we had to know about Civil Rights, about the
inequities and iniquities of the pass laws and influx control...; and
so very much more. His knowledge and experience illuminated all our
efforts to inform and educate ourselves and the South African public."
(The Black Sash, Feb. 1973)
Academic career and later life
Mr Molteno was a member of the University of
Cape Town Council (from
1951 to 1960) as well as a part-time lecturer in Constitutional and
Administrative Law at that institution. He lectured full-time at the
Department of Roman Dutch Law from 1964, and in 1967 was appointed
Professor of the newly created Department of Public Law.
Molteno was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Law in 1970 - a position
he held until his death in 1972. He left two children by his first
wife Veronica Strömsöe and three by his second wife Mary Fleet
Goldsmith. The Dictionary of South African Biography (Vol.5,
p. 515) described him as, "a man of great humanity, as well as of
He appears as a character in the novel 'Ah, but Your Land is
Beautiful' by his colleague and contemporary Alan Paton.
^ Donald Molteno - South African History Online
^ a b c d e rel="nofollow"
Scher, D: Donald Molteno - Dilizintaba - He-who-removes-mountains.
Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, 1979.
Molteno, D.B.: The Assault on our Liberties. Johannesburg: South
African Institute of Race Relations, 1958.
Molteno, D.B.: Towards a democratic South Africa. Johannesburg: South
African Institute of Race Relations, 1959.
Molteno, D.B.: The betrayal of "Natives Representation". Johannesburg:
South African Institute of Race Relations, 1959.
Molteno, D.B.: 50 Years of Union (Presidential address). Johannesburg:
South African Institute of Race Relations, 1960.
Molteno, D.B.: The rules behind the "Rule of Law". Pietermaritzburg:
University of Natal Press, 1965.
Horn, P: Donald Molteno and South African Liberalism. Cape Town: UCT
Liberalism in South Africa
Apartheid-era political parties and groups
Liberal Party of South Africa
Progressive Federal Party
Progressive Reform Party
Apartheid political parties and groups
South African Institute of Race Relations
Helen Suzman Foundation
Centre for Development and Enterprise
People before and during the apartheid era
Zach de Beer
Frederik van Zyl Slabbert
Donald Barkly Molteno