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Government Investigates Production Of CBS Documentary

December 7, 1987

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The government said Monday it is investigating a CBS News documentary about South Africa’s youth that was shown in the United States.

The documentary, ″Children of Apartheid,″ consists primarily of interviews with young South Africans, including the daughters of President P.W. Botha and Nelson Mandela, the jailed leader of the African National Congress.

The Department of Home Affairs, which monitors the media in South Africa, said ″various aspects of the alleged production of the documentary in South Africa are being investigated in depth.″ It declined to give further details.

Beeld, a pro-government, Afrikaans-language newspaper, carried as its top story Monday an article by its Washington correspondent about the program, which was broadcast Saturday.

Headlines accompanying the article said, ″Yanks Misuse Rozanne Botha To Get South Africa″ and ″Poison Film Creates a Sensation.″

Veteran CBS newsman Walter Cronkite hosted the documentary and was to have conducted the interviews, but he was denied a work permit and was not allowed by South Africa to conduct on-camera interviews.

In the one-hour documentary, Cronkite appears on camera in South Africa once, standing on a hill alone above Cape Town.

Rozanne Botha, the president’s 27-year-old daughter, told reporters in Cape Town on Monday that she took part in the program to convince viewers that conditions in South Africa were improving.

She said she had not seen ″Children of Apartheid,″ but added: ″The fact that the documentary did not present an objective picture and that the emphasis was apparently on the negative things in South Africa shows how many enemies we have.

″Everything is not perfect here, but they are also not as bad as they are made out to be,″ she said.

Zinzi Mandela, 27, was shown in the documentary waving a clenched fist and singing an anti-apartheid song. She said there was no hope for meaningful change in South Africa as long as Botha remained president.

All those interviewed in the documentary are youths, from 10-year-old blacks who said they had been jailed by the police to white teen-agers who defended or assailed apartheid.

Cronkite says in the film’s introduction, ″Reports like this one are assembled at some risk, with not infrequent questioning of reporters and camera crews. Some of the young people who spoke to us on camera did so with the knowledge that they might be subject to arrest.″

The documentary was produced by Brian Ellis, a New York-based CBS producer who came to South Africa last year to establish contacts and later returned to conduct on-camera interviews.

The CBS News bureau in Johannesburg declined to comment on the government investigation. CBS spokesman Tom Goodman, contacted in Washington, declined to comment on the statementhe 26 million blacks have no vote in national affairs. The 5 million whites control the economy and maintain separate districts, schools and health services.

News coverage of unrest and security force actions is restricted under the South Africa’s state of emergency.

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