7. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in Cape Town 1
Washington, May 2, 1969, 2141Z.
69050. Subj: SWA 10. Ref: Cape Town 1488.2
- Agree representations along lines reftel timely and appropriate both here and Cape Town.
- Suggest Embassy avail self first opportunity make known growing concern USG.3 Be sure you leave no doubt continued application TA and similar legislation inhabitants of SWA, including both detention and criminal proceedings, is central issue. If SAG has support it claims among people such measures superfluous as well as contrary to rule of law and illegal in their application to international territory. Their continuance can only entrench rejection by moderate overseas opinion of bona fides of SAG development objectives SWA and qte outward looking unqte initiatives.
- Avoid any implication we suggest continued detention under section 6 TA 4 rather than trial under TA. Former more heinous than latter. Moreover, propriety any trial, whether for TA, other statutory or common law offenses, vitiated if trial follows after detention under section 6 TA. Thus, trial of qte Ten5 unqte for common law offenses can be viewed as in right direction only if SAG moves to cease application TA and similar legislation to SWA and SWAfricans. Moreover, dropping [Page 11] Sobukwe clause,6 however helpful, vis-à-vis parliamentary opposition, likely be lost on international community if TA remains, especially in its application SWA.
- Dept preparing for oral démarche to Embassy here at appropriate level. May profit slightly from groundwork extensive discussions Justice Steyn, substance of which on rule of law side presumably conveyed Taswell. Will keep you informed.
- Appreciate very much your efforts paras 1 and 2 reftel.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 29 SW AFR. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Runyon; cleared in AF, UNP, L, EUR/SCAN, and EUR/BMI; and approved by Crosby. Repeated to Pretoria, Helsinki, Lusaka, London, Stockholm, Geneva, Durban, and Johannesburg.↩
- “1488” is an error; reference is to telegram 639 from Cape Town, May 1. In that telegram, Rountree proposed the Department consider démarches to the South African Government expressing concern over the treatment of Southwest Africans, especially the use of the Terrorism Act against SWAPO. (Ibid.)↩
- In telegram 684 from Cape Town, May 9, Rountree reported on his meeting with Fourie, during which the Ambassador expressed U.S. concerns regarding the upcoming trial of Southwest Africans. Rountree reported that Fourie made notes during the meeting, but his “comments were mainly to seek clarification.” Rountree also asked about replies to previous démarches on Southwest Africa and was told that replies were forthcoming. (Ibid.)↩
- Section 6 of the Terrorism Act (1967) allowed someone suspected of involvement in “terrorism” to be detained for an indefinite period without trial on the authority of a senior police officer.↩
- In early 1969, 10 members of SWAPO were detained in Pretoria. The “Ten” were advised on February 22 that they would be tried under the Terrorism Act. The trial began on July 1, 1969.↩
- General Law Amendment Act 37 of 1963 allowed the South African Government to detain political prisoners beyond the length of the prisoners’ original sentences. It was referred to as the “Sobukwe clause” because it was used to extend the 3-year prison sentence of Pan Africanist Congress leader Robert M. Sobukwe for an additional 3 years. Sobukwe was the only person imprisioned under this clause.↩