HC Deb 27 May 1908 vol 189 cc1090-3
MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether for upwards of five months Dinizulu, a British subject, has been undergoing in Natal a preliminary examination on criminal charges which have never been definitely formulated; whether there is any other reason for this exceptional prolongation of these proceedings except that no evidence has been forthcoming upon which any definite charge can be based; and, if there is any other reason, whether the Secretary of State has been made aware what it is.


Dinizulu was arrested over five months ago and the preliminary examination is not yet concluded. His Majesty's Government regret the great length of this examination which they feel must inflict considerable hardship on the accused, but I should say that the Supreme Court recently observed when application was made to restrain the particular magistrate who has been taking the preliminary examination from sitting that "it must be remembered that the investigation is a very protracted and difficult one and complicated by circumstances of an unusual if not extraordinary character," and the application referred to was not itself based on the length of the proceedings but on charges of bias and discourtesy on the part of the magistrate. I will lay the judgment of the Supreme Court on this application on the Table.


What are the unusual and complicated circumstances alluded to?


The judgment of the Supreme Court will be contained in the Blue-book, which I hope to be able to lay on the Table to-morrow afternoon In that judgment my hon. friend will see the reasons, which are fully stated, for the undue prolongation of the trial.

MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

And after this long examination are we to get the names of the persons whom this chief is charged with having murdered?


I am afraid I can add nothing to my Answer. Under the law of Natal the charges are allowed to be somewhat vague, and it is not necessary to give names.

MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)

Is it not a fact that a large number of documents have been discovered in the last few days relating to the trial of Dinizulu, and also a large amount of arms and ammunition?


I think it would be undesirable for me to make any statement on a case which is still sub judice.

MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N)

I should like to know whether the Government have taken any steps to impress on the Government of Natal the necessity of expediting these proceedings, so as to put an end to the scandal which has led many persons to entertain a suspicion that the Government of Natal are only trying to trump up a charge against this man?


I cannot quite accept that statement. My hon. friend will see from the answer I gave that His Majesty's Government do feel acutely that the matter is one of some importance, and they are in communication with the Government of Natal on the subject.

MR. G. GREENWOOD (Peterborough)

I beg to ask the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that an application was recently made to the Supreme Court of Natal, on behalf of Dinizulu, that he should be allowed to see his legal advisers without the presence of officials; whether such application was successful; whether costs were asked for on the ground of his poverty owing to the stoppage of his salary as a Government induna; and whether his salary has been so stopped.


I have seen a Press telegram stating that an application of this kind was made to the Supreme Court and was successful as regards the main issue but not as regards the costs. The Secretary of State has telegraphed to ask whether it is true that Dinizulu's salary has been stopped, and is informed that this is so. He is still in communication with the Natal Government on the subject.

MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has received any further information as to when the preliminary examination of the chief Dinizulu is likely to be brought to a close; and whether, in the absence of any definite charge against him, the Secretary of State will take steps to secure that Dinizulu shall obtain the benefit of the promise made to him by the Imperial Government that he should remain an induna during good behaviour.


No Sir. I regret that I cannot say when the examination will be completed. Meanwhile I can assure my hon. friend that His Majesty's Government, as is shown by the correspondence recently laid, will not agree to Dinizulu's being deprived of the salary promised to him when he is returned to Zululand until the issue of the proceedings is known.