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Mr Ganyile, Mr Botofo And Mr Majola

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 16 November 1961

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what has been the result of his inquiries into the kidnapping from Basutoland of Mr. A. K. Ganyile, a British protected person, a leader of the African Congress Youth League, and two colleagues by six South African political police.

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will now make a statement on the kidnapping by police from the Union of South Africa of Mr. Anderson Ganyile and two others on 26th August whilst they were within the British territory of Basutoland.

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will now make a statement on the abduction from Basutoland of Mr. Anderson Khumari Ganyile, Mr. Paul Botofo and Mr. Majola by agents of the South African police on 26th August.

Inquiries into allegations of kidnapping are still in progress. Her Majesty's Ambassador has asked the South African Government for information on this matter and their reply is awaited. Mr. Anderson Ganyile's uncle has applied to the South African Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. The application was heard on 13th October and judgment was reserved. In these circumstances, there is no comment I can properly make on what is said to have occurred.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this alleged incident took place as far back as 26th August? Does he remember that he received a deputation consisting of a number of us on 29th September and that we were then very impressed by the urgency and seriousness with which the hon. Gentleman dealt with the subject? But is he now aware of very disturbing evidence in South Africa of inactivity upon this matter? In particular, may I point out to the hon. Gentleman that he gave us a promise that blankets on which there were bloodstains in the huts of these men would go to the Institute of Medical Research? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on 5th October the Institute said that the blankets had not been received, and will he speed up activity in this matter?

The allegation which the hon. Member has just made is quite untrue. The blanket was sent to the Institute for analysis, and this was stated in a Press release issued on 7th October from the High Commissioner's Office. A report has just been received in regard to the analysis, and this is now being studied.

Is the Minister aware that those of us who were on the deputation share the view of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) that the Minister was most anxious that an inquiry should be pursued with vigour and speed? Can the hon. Gentleman give us a little more information as to why it has taken some six to eight weeks to get the information? Is it that the South African Government are refusing to give it or are claiming that the matter is sub judice? Can the hon. Gentleman say when we are likely to have information on the point?

The South African Government have replied to the Ambassador that as the matter is before the South African courts it is sub judice. As Mr. Ganyile is a South African, was apprehended by the South African authorities and is held by them, only he and the South African authorities know precisely what took place. It is a well understood convention in this House that we do not comment on court proceedings while they are still in progress.

Is the Minister aware that the first and most solemn duty of every Government is to protect their citizens from attack by foreign maurauders, whether their colour be black, yellow or white? In this case there has been procrastination and evasiveness. There is evidence of this in the possession of the hon. Members who have just spoken, and if the Minister persists in sheltering his officials, will be consider that only one honourable alternative remains to him? This is to uphold the high standards of the House in this matter by resigning?

I entirely repudiate the suggestion that we are not anxious to protect the interests of British subjects. This man—if, in fact, he was abducted from British territory—is not, of course, a British subject. We have asked the South African authorities where and when and in what circumstances these men were apprehended. The matter has been raised in a South African court and the circumstances in which this man was apprehended is, of course, part of the proceedings. Judgment has been reserved, and I suggest that instead of making extravagant remarks like that we should await the judgment and then consider our attitude.

Does the hon. Gentleman think that he might be in a position to answer a question on the subject next Thursday? If not, and as Commonwealth Relations Questions will then go to the bottom of the list, will he undertake to make a special statement to the House at the first opportunity.

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that we shall be ready to give all information as and when it is available. In the circumstances, I cannot say when it will be available.

In view of that very unsatisfactory Answer, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.