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UA 59/94 - South Africa (Bophuthatswana): legal concern / fear of torture / prisoner of conscience: Nathaniel Ngakantsi

, Index number: AFR 53/012/1994

There is concern for the safety of Nathaniel Ngakantsi, who is being held in unacknowledged incommunicado detention, following his arrest on 17 February 1994 by Bophuthatswana police. An executive member of the African National Congress (ANC), Mafikeng Branch, he is believed to be a prisoner of conscience, arrested as part of a campaign of harassment of non-violent political activists during the run-up to South Africa's first non-racial elections. He was arrested at Mmabatho Shopping Complex after he addressed a meeting called by the Mafikeng ANC Youth League, which was dispersed by the police.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/12/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 59/94 Legal concern/Fear of torture/
prisoner of conscience 17 February 1994
SOUTH AFRICA (BOPHUTHATSWANA): Nathaniel NGAKANTSI, Executive member,
African National Congress (ANC),
Mafikeng Branch
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Nathaniel Ngakantsi, who
is being detained incommunicado following his arrest on 17 February by
Bophuthatswana police. The organization believes he is a prisoner of conscience
and is concerned that his detention is part of a campaign of harassment of
non-violent political activists during the run-up to South Africa's first
non-racial elections scheduled for April 1994.
Nathaniel Ngakantsi was arrested at Mmabatho Shopping Complex after he addressed
a meeting called by the Mafikeng ANC Youth League to highlight a number of
issues, including demands for the right to campaign openly during the
pre-election period. The meeting was dispersed by the police and Nathaniel
Ngakantsi was arrested by a group of uniformed Bophuthatswana police officers
and plain-clothed security officers. He was driven away in a private vehicle
which eye-witnesses reported took him to Mmabatho police station. The police
have since refused to acknowledge that he is in their custody, claiming that
he is not at any local police stations, and thus have not so far disclosed
their reasons for arresting him.
Amnesty International is concerned for Nathaniel Ngakantsi's safety since he
is held in unacknowledged and incommunicado detention and because of a previous
arrest. On 31 December 1993 he was arrested with other members of the Mafikeng
ANC branch executive and, despite the fact that the police said on 4 January
1994 that he had been released, he remained in their custody until 7 January
(see UA 442/93 AFR 53/46/93 and follow-ups). Although he was not reported
to have been assaulted at the time of his arrest on 17 February, concern for
his safety is heightened by the fact that Amnesty International has received
many recent reports of brutal conduct by the Bophuthatswana police against
political activists, voter educators, and ordinary residents seeking
information about election issues or seeking to obtain identity documents to
enable them to vote.
The Bophuthatswana authorities are part of a right-wing grouping which is
strongly opposed to participating in the planned elections and Bophuthatswana
is steadfastly denying "homeland" residents their basic rights to freedom of
assembly and expression.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the arrest on 17 February 1994 of Nathaniel Ngakantsi,
whom Amnesty International believes is a prisoner of conscience, and calling
for his immediate and unconditional release;
- seeking assurances that he will not be subjected to threats, assaults or
torture while in the custody of the Bophuthatswana Police and urging that he
be granted immediate access to his lawyer and relatives;
- expressing concern at the pattern of human rights violations committed against
non-violent political activists in Bophuthatswana apparently because of their
involvement in activities related to the 1994 South African elections and
2
calling on the authorities to end the current restrictions in force in
Bophuthatswana on the universally recognized rights to freedom of assembly
and expression.
APPEALS TO:
1) Chief L M Mangope
President
Government Offices
Mmabatho
Bophuthatswana, South Africa
Telegrams: President Mangope, Bophuthatswana, South Africa
Telexes: 937 3008 BOP
Faxes: + 27 140 842626
Salutation: Dear President Mangope
2) Major-General P J Seleke
Commissioner of Police
Private Bag X2006
Mmabatho 8681
South Africa
Telegrams: Police Commissioner, Mmabatho, Bophuthatswana, South Africa
Faxes: + 27 140 812 711
Salutation: Dear Major General
3) Mr Rowan Cronje
Minister of Defence
Department of Defence
Private Bag X2003
Mmabatho 8681
South Africa
Telegrams: Defence Minister, Mmabatho, Bophuthatswana, South Africa
Salutation: Dear Minister
4) Mr R F Botha
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria 0001
South Africa
Telegrams: Foreign Minister, Pretoria, South Africa
Telexes: 0959 350060 EXTERN TTX SA
Faxes: + 27 12 325 8669
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
- Lt Col F Short, Office of the Commissioner of Police, Private Bag X2004,
Mmabatho 8681, South Africa; (Fax: + 27 140 812 711)
- Lawyers for Human Rights, Mafikeng Regional Office, POB 945, Mafikeng 8670,
South Africa;
- Mafikeng Anti-Repression Forum (MAREF), PO Box 158, Ratshidi 8681, South
Africa;
- The Editor, Sowetan, POB 6663, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa;
and to diplomatic representatives of South Africa accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
3
or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 March 1994.

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