South Africa Says It Has 8,501 Emergency Detainees With PM-South Africa, Bjt
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ The government told Parliament today 8,501 people were being detained under the nationwide state of emergency, the first time it acknowledged detainees numbered in the thousands and the first time it named them.
Since President P.W. Botha declared the state of emergency June 12, the government had refused to say how many people it arrested under the broad emergency powers, which allow indefinite incarceration.
At one point, the government said it had charged 780 of the detainees, but never acknowledged estimates by the political opposition and by private monitoring groups that thousands of people were in detention.
The government made it illegal to publish names of detained people unless the names were officially announced.
Parliament was not in session when the state of emergency took effect, but it opened an unusual second session today. Under the Public Safety Act, the minister of law and order, Louis le Grange, had to report to Parliament on detentions.
The emergency was declared under terms of that act.
The names of the detainees filled 171 pages, but no addresses were listed, nor any hint of where the detainees were picked up or being held.
The Detainees Parents Support Committee estimated last week that 12,000 people had been detained, but said many had been released.
Le Grange today reported only the number now in detention.