South Africa Blocks Activist’s Trip to U.S.

Times Staff Writer

Overruling a court decision, the South African government on Tuesday barred the Rev. Allan Boesak, a leading anti-apartheid activist, from visiting the United States and Europe later this month.

Stoffel Botha, the minister for home affairs, revoked Boesak’s passport a day after a Cape Town magistrate had ordered it returned in a general relaxation of bail conditions for the clergyman, who is facing trial on charges of subversion.

Boesak, 40, a founder of the United Democratic Front coalition of anti-apartheid groups here and the president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, had planned to travel to Washington to accept a human rights award from the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fund on Nov. 20. He said he will consult with his lawyers on whether the government can be compelled legally to permit him to make the trip.


“This government has no respect for the courts of the country or the rule of law,” Boesak said. “This is nothing but petty vindictiveness and is the kind of act that has given the South African government the reputation it now has.”

Botha also threatened seven clergymen from the Dutch Reformed Church with legal action if they travel abroad to meet with leaders of the outlawed African National Congress, and the clergymen said after a meeting with him that they will have to cancel the trip as a result.

The Rev. Nico Smith, leader of the group of white, black, Asian and Colored (mixed-race) clergymen, said that Botha has refused to issue them passports, threatened to withdraw those already issued and to prosecute anyone who goes ahead with the trip.

“The (home affairs) minister put it very clearly and very straight that he would not allow us to go,” Smith said.

“We still believe such a trip is absolutely necessary,” he said. “We expected that as a Christian government they would want to encourage initiatives aimed at easing the rising conflict in South Africa. But if they are really intent on preventing us from making a positive contribution towards reconciliation, the question arises as to whether there is still freedom of conscience in South Africa.”

In Cape Town, security police began an investigation into a lengthy interview with Oliver Tambo, president of the African National Congress, that was published Monday in the Cape Times newspaper in defiance of security legislation prohibiting Tambo from being quoted in South Africa. The investigation was personally ordered by Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange.


Anthony Heard, editor of the Cape Times, the country’s most liberal metropolitan newspaper, could be jailed for three years if convicted of violating the ban on quoting Tambo and for 10 years if found guilty of “furthering the aims” of the African National Congress.

“I am nothing but a professional journalist,” Heard said in Cape Town after a visit by a lieutenant from the security police. “There are very few things in life that I would be prepared to risk prosecution and possibly prison for, but one of them is the public’s undoubted right to know what is going on. . . . I am prepared to go quite a long way down that tube because that is what I spent my whole professional life trying to do.”

In South Africa’s continuing violence, police headquarters in Pretoria reported scattered incidents of unrest--mostly stone-throwing and arson attacks. It said there have been no deaths, although a number of persons, including a policeman and a soldier, were injured.