The Rev. Allan Boesak, one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid clerics, was arrested today, a day before he was to lead a march to demand the release of jailed black leader Nelson Mandela.
Boesak, the mixed-race president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, was picked up outside Cape Town near the campus of the University of the Western Cape by security policemen.
A spokesman at police headquarters in Pretoria said Boesak, 39, was arrested under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without charge. The spokesman refused to elaborate.
Boesak was arrested just before 3 p.m. at a roadblock near the campus after going there to try to defuse a confrontation between police and students, said Boesak’s office at the university, where he serves as chaplain.
Tear Gas Fired
The South African Press Assn. reported that police fired tear gas at about 400 marchers at the university for mixed-race students. The students were demanding the release of a detained student leader.
A force in the founding of the United Democratic Front anti-apartheid alliance, Boesak had called a march for Wednesday to Pollsmoor Prison, where Mandela is serving a life sentence on a conviction for plotting sabotage. He predicted that 20,000 people will take part.
Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange said Saturday that “no illegal gathering will be allowed, and the police will take stern action in this regard.” All outdoor political gatherings have been illegal in South Africa since 1976.
Lawyer Essa Moosa said: "(Boesak) will obviously be most disappointed that he won’t be at the march. But it is impossible to call it off now.”
The United States harshly criticized Boesak’s arrest and said it protested to Pretoria over his detention.
State Dept. Reaction
“We believe the detention of (the) Rev. Boesak and other leaders can only exacerbate the current cycle of polarization,” State Department spokesman Charles Redman said.
President Pieter W. Botha visited the riot-torn black township of Zwide near Port Elizabeth today and said he will not lift the state of emergency imposed six weeks ago giving police sweeping new detention powers in an attempt to quell the unrest.
“The security forces . . . are in full control,” said Botha, who toured the township in an armored car before walking almost half a mile to his helicopter.
“We must continue with the state of emergency to enable the forces of normality, of good will, to overcome these problems and we are progressing in this direction,” Botha said.
Elsewhere, South African police reported that rioting blacks launched arson attacks on cars and buildings in six townships but were dispersed with whips, rubber bullets, tear gas and birdshot.
Tutu’s son jailed. Page 4.