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American Newspaper Correspondent Ordered to Leave

December 9, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The government said Tuesday it had refused to renew the work permit of Michael Parks, correspondent of the Los Angeles Times, and told him to leave South Africa by Dec. 31.

Parks is the fifth foreign journalists ordered out of country since a nationwide state of emergency was imposed June 12 because of a violent uprising against the apartheid system of race discrimination. The Department of Home Affairs would not give a reason for his expulsion.

In a related development, representatives of South African newspaper publishers met with a Cabinet committee Tuesday about government plans for tighter press controls. One anti-apartheid group, the Black Sash, urged publishers not to become ″a party to fascism.″

Parks, 43, has been in South Africa since mid-1984. He said he had sought renewal of his work permit since it expired in September. He declined further comment, saying: ″If there are any problems, I will discuss them with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and the Bureau for Information.″

Alvin Shuster, foreign editor of the newspaper, said: ″The Los Angeles Times, which has had a bureau in South Africa for 15 years, regrets the decision.″ He said the paper was ″appealing for an extension of the deadline to discuss the matter.″

″The Times feels that Mr. Parks has carried out his duties responsibly and objectively and hopes that he will be able to continue to do so,″ Shuster said.

He said Parks was Peking correspondent for the Baltimore Sun before joining the Times. Parks also served in several other foreign posts for the Sun, including the Soviet Union, Egypt and Vietnam.

A U.S. diplomat in Pretoria, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American officials were discussing the case with South Africa.

Four foreign reporters were ordered out of the country within three weeks of the June emergency declaration: Newsweek magazine correspondent Richard Manning, CBS News cameraman Wim de Vos, West German television reporter Heinrich Buettgen and Dan Sagir, who reported for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Israel army radio.

The meeting between Cabinet ministers and newspaper executives resulted from President P.W. Botha’s announcement last week that the media system of self-policing needed ″pepping up.″

He said the National Press Union, which includes executives of the four main newspaper groups, agreed that South Africa faced ″a many-pronged but well-coordinated revolutionary onslaught.″

Home Minister Stoffel Botha announced after Tuesday’s meeting that the Press Union wanted time to review the media code of conduct and a second meeting had been set for Feb. 13.

Newspaper editorials in the past few days have expessed alarm over the government attitude, suggesting that Botha hopes to pressure publishers into greater self-censorship. It is widely believed that new mandatory restrictions will be issued if the papers balk.

The Cabinet committee was led by Chris Heunis, minister of constitutional development and planning, and included the ministers of justice, law and order, education and home affairs.

A Black Sash statement said it sent a telegram to the National Press Union urging publishers to opposing new restrictions or broader self-censorship.

″It is vital that the press does not allow itself to be a party to fascism,″ it said. ″We trust that you will restrain your representatives on the NPU so that never again will they be party to such a scandalous statement as that issued last week″ by Botha.

Emergency regulations adopted in June empower the government to close newspapers. They impose several restrictions on the press, including bans on publishing ″subversive″ statements and on reporting security force actions without permission.

South African and foreign journalists have observed the restrictions only loosely in the past few months.

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