Minister Refuses to Return Boesak’s Passport.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Home Affairs Minister Stoffel Botha overrode a court ruling and refused to return the passport of a popular anti-apartheid activist who planned to visit the United States, government radio reported today.
The South African Broadcasting Corp. said Botha refused to go along with a ruling by the Malmesbury Magistrate’s Court, near Cape Town, to relax bail conditions for the Rev. Allan Boesak.
Boesak, who is of mixed race, was arrested under security laws Aug. 27 after calling for a march on the prison where black leader Nelson Mandela is held. Outdoor political gatherings have been illegal since 1976.
Responding to Botha’s move, Boesak today said ″This government has no respect for the courts or the rule of law,″ and that he will consult his lawyers.
″One can only have utter contempt for such an act,″ Boesak said.
Boesak, president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, had planned trips to Sweden and to the United States.
On Monday, the Malmesbury court agreed to hand back Boesak’s passport, saying there was little doubt he would return to South Africa for his trial, for which no date has been set.
Botha could not immediately be reached to comment on the radio report. The South African government says the nation’s judiciary is independent, and ministers rarely ignore court decisions.
It was not clear what clause in the law Botha employed, and no reason for his decision was immediately available.
Today was the fourth day of new regulations on news coverage of anti- apartheid unrest in the 38 areas covered by the government’s July 21 state of emergency declaration. Police, one of the few remaining sources of information, said there were few incidents.
Police reported black mobs set two delivery trucks on fire outside Pretoria, and blacks attacked police with stones west of Johannesburg, in central Natal province along the Indian Ocean and in Cape province inland from Cape Town.
Already, the media curbs have resulted in conflicting reports from black townships. In Soweto, the black township outside Johannesburg, residents Monday reported watching a black mob halt a delivery truck, chase its driver away under a hail of stones, loot the truck of chickens and fish and set it ablaze. Police said they knew nothing of the incident.
The new rules on reporting ban filming or tape recording of unrest and allow print journalists into troubled areas only with police permission.
Mandela, the jailed black leader, remained in a hospital today recovering from surgery Sunday to remove a swollen prostate, said Lt. Col. Awie van Vuuren, a spokesman for the national Prisons Service.
Mandela, 67, is considered the inspirational leader of South Africa’s 24 million blacks despite being imprisoned on a sabotage conviction since 1964. He initiated the black African National Congress’ war of sabotage and bombings against the white-minority government in the 1960s.
The current leader of the outlawed ANC, Oliver Tambo, was quoted in an interview published Monday as reiterating demands that the government free Mandela and other imprisoned black leaders in order to ″create a climate″ for negotiations.
″There is always a possibility of a truce,″ the Cape Town Times quoted Tambo as saying in an interview in London. ″It would be very, very easy if, for example, we started negotiations. We have said that negotiations can start.″
Under apartheid, the system of racial segregation, some 5 million whites control the government and business while 24 million blacks are denied the vote.
By official count, nearly 800 people - mostly blacks - have been killed in anti-apartheid riots since August 1984.
Government television said Monday night that 43 men - all assumed to be black - were arrested after security forces discovered an arms cache in a black area near Port Elizabeth, 600 miles south of Johannesburg.
Handguns, machete-like knives, gasoline bombs, hatchets and clubs were in the stockpile, the South African Broadcasting Corp. said. It did not report when the arrests took place.