EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 53/46/93
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
Joseph MOLEFE, Executive member, African National Congress (ANC), Mafikeng
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
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.
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