HC Deb 31 March 1908 vol 187 cc310-2
MR. ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Dinizulu is still confined in prison; whether he has yet been informed of the specific charges laid against him, with full particulars of names, dates, and places respecting them; whether he has free and unrestricted access to such legal advisers as he may desire and can receive visits from friends; and whether a date has yet been fixed for his trial.


Dinizulu is still confined to prison. Perhaps the House will allow me to read the recent telegraphic correspondence on this subject generally, which will give the fullest information in the possession of the Secretary of State. On 19th March the Secretary of State telegraphed to the Governor of Natal as follows:—"I am sorry to have to recur to Jellicoe's allegations, but I am pressed for reply in detail to several points and I desire to be in a position to do full justice to your Ministers if and when they are assailed on any particular ground. (a) Have Dinizulu's advisers full access to all statements and depositions which are being used by or before the magistrate, with liberty to cross-examine witnesses upon them? (b) Are they permitted to make inspection of papers, etc., taken from Dinizulu's Custody? (c) Are they or their agents permitted to go into Zululand to collect evidence for the defence, and if not, when will they be allowed to do so? (d) Can you also give me any further information as to the foundation for allegations of undue delay by the examining magistrate; of coercion under martial law to sign depositions, and of brow-beating of witnesses in Court? All these points are the subject of inquiry. I am also anxious for some information (e) as to the detention of Mankulumana and Mgwago in addition to Dinizulu. In England as you know a man cannot be detained in prison without formulating some definite sworn information against him, or a writ of habeas corpus would promptly issue. It is a matter of comment that there would seem to be no similar means of securing the liberty of the subject in Natal, and that men may be detained indefinitely in gaol without redress. Any information you can send me to rebut this position will be most welcome." On the 27th the following answer was received—"Ministers have asked me to reply to your telegram of 19th March in terms of the following Minute of acting Attorney-General. The preparatory examination in Dinuzulu's case is proceeding in ordinary course before the tribunals created by law for the purpose. Government have no control over such tribunals and are neither responsible nor can they be required to answer for the proceedings there. If any impropriety or injustice takes place a remedy can be sought in the higher Courts, but no application has hitherto been made for such relief. But in so far as Government may wish to be in a position to answer the specific questions asked by the Secretary of State for the Colonies I take them in turn. (a) Yes; Dinuzulu's advisers have full access to all statements and depositions used by or before the magistrate with liberty to cross-examine witnesses on them. Counsel for Dinuzulu is always present, sometimes two counsel. (b) The papers taken from Dinuzulu's custody, of which there is considerable quantity, are being translated for my information. Up to the present I have not considered them nor have I allowed them to be inspected by Dinuzulu's solicitors. (c) Up to the present permission has not as far as I am aware been given to Dinuzulu's solicitors to go to Zululand to collect evidence. Proper opportunities will be given when the fitting time arrives. I cannot advise that permission be given yet. (d) There has been no undue delay: evidence has been brought forward as quickly as possible. Any allegations of coercion under martial law to sign depositions would be to the best of my information entirely baseless. Accusation of brow-beating in Court would be equally untrue. (e) Preparatory examinations are proceeding against Mankulamana and Mgwago on charges of treason. Certain general questions are asked regarding the necessity of definite sworn information. I need merely say that none of the prisoners have been arrested except upon sworn information and warrants granted by judicial authority. The course followed has been that prescribed by the long established law of the Colony and of Cape Colony before Natal was annexed. Some of our forms differ from those of English law, but our system is equally founded on principles of justice and fairness."


Has not the Cape Premier complained of this "damnable interference?"


Order, order. That does not arise on this Question.

MR. LEHMANN (Leicestershire, Market Harborough)

Are we to understand that by protracting this preliminary examination for an indefinite period no definite charge can be brought?


My hon. friend puts the case as severely as it can be put, but I am not in a position at present to rebut his interpretation of it.


Has the Secretary of State asked the Ministers of Natal when the trial is likely to take place?


Yes; we have asked when the distinct charges will be formulated and a definite trial begun. We are informed that the preparatory examination is now taking place, and they cannot say when that examination will be finished.