South Africa Deports American Missionary With AM-South Africa, Bjt
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ A Lutheran missionary from America, ordered to leave South Africa, was held overnight at a police station while his family thought he was en route to the United States, various sources said Friday.
The Rev. Brian Burchfield, 38, a native of Salem, Ore., finally left South Africa aboard a KLM flight to Amsterdam Friday evening, said a U.S. Information Service official, Harvey Leifert. The flight connects with an Amsterdam-New York flight Saturday.
Burchfield’s wife, Susan, told a church service in Cape Town Thursday night that her husband had been flown out of the country. Mrs. Burchfield, 39, from Seattle, Wash., is also a pastor.
American Lutheran Church officials in the United States said Burchfield was taken into custody Thursday at the Johannesburg airport when he flew there from Cape Town to consult with church leaders. He was initially held in an airport lounge, but spent the night at the Kempton Park police station, they said.
″Another missionary, Tom Soeldner, saw Burchfield escorted to the international terminal in Johannesburg, and was told Burchfield was on a plane to New York,″ said spokesman Herb David at the church headquarters in Minneapolis.
″Soeldner wasn’t satisfied ... so he called the American consulate and asked them to check. After two hours of checking, the consulate found that Burchfield had been taken to a jail near the airport, where he spent the night,″ David said.
He said Soeldner telephoned church officials in Minneapolis to advise them of the situation.
Burchfield, whose last U.S. posting was at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynwood, Wash., received the deportation order July 10, when two government officials arrived at his home in Cape Town.
Mrs. Burchfield said no reasons were given for the deportation except that it was ″in the public interest,″ a phrase carried on all such orders.
The order gave him until Tuesday July 15 to leave the country, but said he could stay pending an appeal to the Department of Home Affairs. The appeal was rejected Wednesday and Burchfield was ordered to leave by midnight Thursday.
It was not clear why he was not put on a plane Thursday.
Mrs. Burchfield and the couple’s two daughters - Erin, 14, and Megan, 12 - were not ordered to leave, and church officials said they would stay in South Africa for the time being.
The couple had been in Cape Town since January to help a local pastor serve four mixed-race congregations of about 600 people.
Mrs. Burchfield told the church service Thursday night that at first her husband had decided to defy the order, but later decided that resisting it would take the focus off the struggle against apartheid.
More than 2,000 people have been killed in South Africa since increasingly violent protests against the system of racial segregation known as apartheid started in September 1984. Under apartheid, 5 million whites dominate 24 million voteless blacks.
The Burchfields were arrested last March on a disorderly conduct charge that was later dropped. They were among 56 people seeing off a Lutheran pastor being deported.
Last June 16, Burchfield was detained for three hours when he showed up at the St. Nicholas Anglican Church in Cape Town, looking for an American teen- ager among 300 people arrested that day after a service commemorating those who died in the 1976 Soweto riots.