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UA 442/93 - South Africa (Bophuthatswana): legal concern / fear of torture / possible prisoners of conscience: Nathaniel Ngakantsi, Joseph Molefe

, N° d'index: AFR 53/046/1993

The two men named above, members of the executive of the Mafikeng Branch of the ANC, are being held incommunicado without charge following their arrest early on 31 December 1993. AI is concerned for their safety. Prior to his arrest, Joseph Molefe had complained to human rights lawyers of police harassment.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/46/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 442/93 Legal concern / Fear of torture /
Possible prisoners of conscience 31 December 1993
SOUTH AFRICA (BOPHUTHATSWANA):
Nathaniel NGAKANTSI, Executive member, African National Congress, Mafikeng
Branch
Joseph MOLEFE, Executive member, African National Congress (ANC), Mafikeng
Branch
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of the two men named above.
They are being held in incommunicado detention without charge following their
arrest in the early hours of 31 December 1993. The organization regards them
as possible prisoners of conscience, and is concerned that the detentions are
part of pattern of harassment of non-violent political activists involved in
voter education work in the lead up to South Africa's first non-racial elections
in April 1994.
Nathaniel Ngakantsi was arrested just after midnight in his home. The police
apparently informed his family that he was being detained for questioning.
Joseph Molefe's arrest was carried out at about 5am in his home. Police Colonel
D A George has confirmed to the detainees' attorney that the men are being
held under the terms of Section 25 of Bophuthatswana's Internal Security Act.
This allows police to hold a detainee for at least 14 days, or for a further
period up to 90 days with higher authorization. The police have the right
to deny lawyers or anyone else access to the detainee. The men may be in
detention at the offices of the Security Branch of the Bophuthatswana Police,
although this has not been confirmed to Amnesty International. Although the
organization has not received reports that the men were assaulted at the time
of their arrest, it fears they may face ill-treatment in detention following
recent reports of assaults of detainees in police custody in other parts of
Bophuthatswana.
Prior to his arrest, Joseph Molefe had complained to human rights lawyers that
he was being harassed by the police, who were coming to his home apparently
searching for him. Apart from being an active member of the ANC Mafikeng
Sub-region Branch, Joseph Molefe has also been active in organizing workshops
to educate rural residents of Bophuthatswana about their rights in connection
with the 1994 elections.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Bophuthatswana Government representatives are part of a right-wing coalition
which is still refusing to participate in the planned 1994 elections or to
recognize recently established transitional authorities. In the new South
African Constitution, which was passed by Parliament on 22 December 1993 and
will come into effect after the 1994 elections, full South African citizenship
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has been restored to all "homeland" residents as of 1 January 1994, and the
nominally independent "homelands", including Bophuthatswana, will be
re-incorporated into South Africa after the elections.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the detention of Nathaniel Ngakantsi and Joseph Molefe,
who Amnesty International believes may be prisoners of conscience, in the early
hours of 31 December 1993, and calling for them to be released immediately
if they are not be charged promptly with a recognizably criminal offence;
- seeking assurances that they will not be subjected to threats, assaults or
torture while in the custody of the Bophuthatswana Police;
- expressing concern at the pattern of arbitrary detentions and other 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.
APPEALS TO:
1) Mr F W de Klerk
State President
State President's Office
Private Bag X83
Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Telegrams: President de Klerk, Pretoria, South Africa
Faxes:+ 27 12 323 3982
Salutation: Dear President
2) 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 Chief Mangope
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) Major-General P J Seleke
Commissioner of Police
Private Bag X2006
Mmabatho 8681, South Africa
Telegrams: Police Commissioner, Mmabatho, Bophuthatswana, South Africa
Salutation: Dear Major-General
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
- Col D A George, Private Bag X2004, Mmabatho 8681, South Africa;
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- Lawyers for Human Rights, Mafikeng Regional Office, PO Box 945, Mafikeng
8670, South Africa;
- Mafikeng Anti-Repression Forum (MAREF), PO Box 158, Ratshidi 8681, South
Africa;
- The Editor, Sowetan, PO Box 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,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 14 February 1994.

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