State of Emergency | Sojourners

State of Emergency

On August 27, the day before he was scheduled to lead a march on Pollsmoor prison, where black political leader Nelson Mandela is serving a life sentence, Rev. Allan Boesak was arrested by South African police under a law that allows for indefinite imprisonment without charges or trial.

In one of his last public statements before his arrest, Boesak responded to several allegations made by Minister of Law and Order Louis Le Grange. Boesak said:

Once again I have been singled out for attack by Minister of Police Louis Le Grange, who accused me of using my clerical robe as "battle dress." According to the minister, the United Democratic front and specifically I must take responsibility for the deaths during the unrest.

The minister must not impose his violent, militarist thinking upon me. I have marched in the face of his armed police, not with guns or casspirs, but with my Bible, my faith in Jesus Christ, and my people's determination to be free. I will do so again. I do not need ''battle dress" or weapons, for the God of justice is with me.

I refuse to take responsibility for the death of our people during the unrest. The whole world knows, and so does the minister, that the unrest in our country is caused by apartheid, by oppression and exploitation. Apartheid is a violent system that can only be maintained by violence, causing ever more violence and destruction. It is not I who have devised this evil system nor do I maintain it. It is not I who have broken up families, or relocated people by the millions, or allow little children to die of hunger. It is not I who have sent in the army and the police to make war on defenseless people. It is not I who have given indemnity to police who cold-bloodedly murder our children. No, the responsibility for the present tragic situation must be taken by Mr. Le Grange and the South African government.

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