S. Africa Jails Key Leader of ANC, 2 Others
A senior leader of the African National Congress and two other guerrillas of the outlawed anti-apartheid movement were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Monday for treason or terrorism.
A 20-year sentence for treason was imposed on the most prominent defendant, Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, 51, who was abducted from Swaziland in 1986 by men he said were South African agents. He has been widely described as the highest-ranking ANC official to go on trial since Nelson R. Mandela and several colleagues were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.
Another defendant, Mandla Maseko, received a 23-year sentence for treason. The other, Simon Dladla, received 12 years for terrorism. They were found guilty of laying land mines that injured eight people in Transvaal province in 1986.
Ebrahim, who is of Indian descent, and his co-defendants, who are black, turned toward supporters in the gallery at the Pretoria Supreme Court and gave clenched-fist salutes before they were led away. All three could have been sentenced to death.
Court Session in London
The men were convicted in November after a 16-month trial. At one stage last year, three members of the ANC’s executive committee--who faced arrest in South Africa--gave evidence for the defense at a court session held in London.
Ebrahim, along with his co-defendants, did not testify during the trial, but he submitted a 17-page written statement to the court in which he alleged that all three men were tortured by police.
“Finding us guilty is merely a statement that the state considers the struggle for democracy, equality, justice, peace and a non-racial society to be morally and politically reprehensible,” he said.
In an editorial on Monday, the country’s largest Afrikaans-language daily, Beeld, suggested that the government talk to the ANC. The traditionally pro-government newspaper said South Africa could reap immense benefits by freeing Mandela and negotiating with his organization.
President P. W. Botha, who has criticized Beeld’s increasingly liberal stance, rejects any talks with the ANC until it renounces violence.
The ANC was outlawed by South Africa’s white government in 1960 and a year later began a bombing and sabotage campaign.