S. Africa Overrules Court, Seizes Activist’s Passport
The government today overruled a court and confiscated the passport of the Rev. Allan Boesak, an anti-apartheid activist who had planned to travel to the United States this month to accept a humanitarian award.
The decision was announced by Minister of Home Affairs Stoffel Botha, who gave no explanation.
Boesak, who is of mixed race, accused the government of pettiness.
“This government has no respect for the courts or the rule of law,” he said, adding that his lawyers will consider an appeal.
Boesak, president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, had intended to go to Washington on Nov. 20 to accept the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Mass March Planned
Security police arrested Boesak on Aug. 27, the eve of a mass march he vowed to lead through Cape Town to demand that black-rights leader Nelson Mandela be freed from Pollsmoor Prison.
Outdoor gatherings have been illegal since 1976, and Boesak was held under wide-ranging security laws that allow detention of anyone who police suspect might commit a crime.
Boesak, 39, and two other South Africans--white cleric Frederick Beyers Naude and Mandela’s wife, Winnie--are the 1985 winners of the 2-year-old Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fund award, named after the senator and presidential candidate who was assassinated on June 5, 1968.
The awards, which carry a total prize of $50,000, are to be presented Nov. 20 on the 60th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth. Because Winnie Mandela and Boesak do not have passports, only Beyers Naude, secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, is expected to attend.
Reduction in Bail
The issue of Boesak’s passport arose Monday in a courtroom outside Cape Town, where his lawyers won a reduction in bail conditions that included returning his confiscated passport.
The court said it believed Boesak would reappear for his trial, the date of which has not been set.
Boesak said lifting his passport will damage South Africa’s already tarnished overseas image. He said he thought the government would be more sensitive.
The action served no purpose “except to strengthen the view of the international community that the government is seeking to throw a blanket of silence over the unrest and in particular the voices of opposition,” said parliamentary opposition leader Alex Boraine, a white.
Boraine, of the anti-apartheid Progressive Federal Party, said the move “will harden attitudes and make it more difficult for South Africa to resolve the enormous problems facing all of us.”