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EXTRA 25/94 - South Africa: torture / ill-treatment / legal concern: detainees held under emergency regulations including: Ollie Shange, Khumbuza Shange, Goodwill Shange, Bhekinkosi Shange, Mpusophe Shange, Bazakuyena Shange, Phendu Shange, Bhekuwiye Then

, Index number: AFR 53/026/1994

At least 29 detainees held under emergency regulations in Natal appear to have been arbitrarily detained for political reasons. Some have alleged that they were assaulted, ill-treated, and in at least one case, tortured by the police. Lawyers and relatives have had difficulty gaining access to the detainees.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/26/94
Distr: UA/SC
EXTRA 25/94 Torture / ill-treatment / legal concern 27 April 1994
SOUTH AFRICA: Detainees held under emergency regulations including:
in Eshowe prison: Ollie Shange, Khumbuza Shange, Goodwill Shange, Bhekinkosi
Shange, Mpusophe Shange, Bazakuyena Shange, Phendu
Shange, Bhekuwiye Thene
in Empangeni prison:Sibusiso Cele, Thokozani Ndlovu, William Sithole, Siyabonga
Nthuli, Zwelakhe Mntambo, Efraim Mntambo, Patrick
Cele, Sabelo Cele, Torch Gumede, Desmond Mkhize,
Bhekuwakhe Vilakazi, Mbuso Bulunga, Thulani Mkhize,
Thembinkosi Ngema, Dumisani Msibi, Xolani Thembe,
Panama Ngema, Khulekani Zulu, Khumbulani Ngema, and
one other (name unknown to AI)
Port Shepstone police station: Andrias Gcaba
At least 29 detainees currently held under state of emergency regulations
imposed in Natal province on 31 March 1994 appear to have been arbitrarily
detained for political reasons. The South African Police have not provided
them or their legal representatives with reasons for their detention and there
appears to be no active investigation into their cases. Some have alleged that
they were assaulted, ill-treated, and in at least one case tortured by the
police. Lawyers, relatives and others have had difficulty gaining access to
the detainees.
Eight of the detainees, whose ages range from 15 to 70 years, are in Eshowe
prison. They come from a rural area near Eshowe where, because of past attacks
by men believed to be Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters, men sleep in
the bush outside their homes for their own protection. They were reportedly
arrested on the night of 9 April by police who arrived by helicopter. The police
searched the area, arrested the eight, and confiscated licensed firearms from
relatives of the detainees. The owners of the firearms were not arrested.
Twenty other detainees are being held in a communal cell at Empangeni prison.
Sibusiso Cele and Thokozani Ndlovu, from Dlangezwa, Empangeni, were arrested
at their homes on 11 April by officers of the Internal Stability Unit of the
South African Police based at Richard's Bay. The police informed relatives
and others of their arrest only on 25 April. The detainees told subsequent
visitors that they were assaulted at the time of their arrest and were given
no reason for their detention. Sixteen others, from Matubatuba area, arrested
during house-to-house searches on 12 April, are high school students aged
between 16 and 20 years old. They were handled roughly during their arrest.
William Sithole, who was arrested at his home in the Empangeni area on 10
April, was held in an Internal Stability Unit police vehicle for approximately
24 hours before the police reported his arrest to a police station. He told
his legal representative, who despite obstructiveness on the part of the prison
commander was able to visit the detainees on 25 April, that while inside the
vehicle he was subjected to torture by having a rubber tube pulled tightly
across his face as if to suffocate him, was choked, and was given electric
shocks, while being interrogated about the whereabouts of weapons.
Andrias Gcaba was arrested in Port Shepstone on 19 April when police intercepted
2
a taxi he was taking to Durban. He believes that someone inside the police
vehicle pointed him out to the police.
Amnesty International believes that more than 20 other uncharged detainees
are being held in Natal province. In addition, at least 56 other detainees
were charged, but charges against 46 of them were dropped on 22 April for
lack of evidence. The remaining 10 await a bail hearing on 29 April.
The emergency regulations in Natal province provide for detainees to receive
visits from lawyers and relatives, as well as from special advisors appointed
by the authorities to monitor the circumstances and treatment of detainees
and report back to the authorities. Reportedly some detainees received visits
from special advisors in the week of 18-22 April.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern that detainees held under state of emergency regulations
in Natal province appear to have been detained on an arbitrary basis for
political reasons, noting that they have been given no reasons for their
detention;
- expressing concern that the police have reportedly been slow to provide
relatives, lawyers and others with information about, and access to, the
detainees; (expressing concern also that the detainees include youths as young
as 15 and 17, and an elderly man of 70);
- expressing concern that in some cases detainees have complained of
ill-treatment, assaults, and in the case of William Sithole from Empangeni,
of severe torture at the hands of South African Police officers;
- seeking assurances that detainees will not be subjected to further torture
or ill-treatment while in South African Police custody;
- urging that all detainees held under the state of emergency imposed in Natal
province on 31 March 1994 be charged promptly with a recognizably criminal
offence or released.
APPEALS TO
H J Coetsee
Minister of Justice and of Defence
Private Bag X276
Pretoria 0001
South Africa
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Pretoria, South Africa
Faxes: + 27 12 320 2059
Telexes: 320502
Salutation: Dear Minister
Lieutenant-General Colin Steyn
Regional Police Commissioner, Natal
P O Box 391
Durban 4000
Telegrams: Natal Regional Police Commissioner, Durban, South Africa
Salutation: Dear Lieutenant-General
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
The Commander
Empangeni Prison
3
Empangeni 3880
South Africa
The Commander
Eshowe Prison
Eshowe 3815
South Africa
- Human Rights Commission, Natal Office, 20 St Andrews Street, Durban 4001,
South Africa
and to diplomatic representatives of South Africa accredited to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO ARRIVE NO LATER THAN 5 MAY 1994. (After elections on
26-28 April the newly elected Parliament is due to meet on 6 May.)

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