'I Have Seen a Land' | Sojourners

'I Have Seen a Land'

Now that we are all welcomed, let's get down to serious business. The Minister [of Law and Order, Louis Le Grange] has ordered that I be charged under Section 27 of the Police Act. There are people who thought that I had been detained, because when you hear "section" in this country, then you know. He had also said that he has now ordered the police to open a dossier on me. I was a little disappointed, I must say. I had thought that they had dossiers from way back when. Now I know they only started two weeks ago.

The Police Act says any person who publicizes any untrue matter in relation to any member of the [defense] force—when that force member or the force itself is functioning—without having reasonable grounds that that statement is true, shall be guilty of an offense. Then they tell you that there is a fine of up to 10,000 Rand [$4,500], or five years in jail, or both.

Now, what angered the minister is apparently what I had said on a visit to Australia, where I had an interview with a person who had asked me what I thought about what is happening in South Africa. Among other things, we talked about the unrest of the last three months. We talked about the campaign of the United Democratic Front [UDF] and other organizations to get people to stay away from the polls [during the election of parliaments for Indians and people of mixed race]. We talked about the success of all of that and about the meaning of what we were seeing in South Africa.

"What does it mean," he asked me, "when 7,000 troops are asked to go into, or ordered to go into, the [black] townships?" And I said that that means we have an undeclared state of civil war. I thought it was clear and honest, and I thought I was simply saying what I saw was the truth. The minister is upset about that.

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