HC Deb 10 June 1953 vol 516 cc216-7
38. Mrs. White

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to make a statement on the banishment of Chief Gomani by the Governor of Nyasaland.

41. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the reasons for which Paramount Chief Gomani has been banished from his own district in Nyasaland.

49. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the reasons for the arrest and banishment of Acting Paramount Chief Gomani of Nyasaland.

Mr. Lyttelton

Chief Gomani was suspended as a Native Authority on 19th May when he refused to withdraw a written notice inciting his people to breaches of the agricultural laws and urging them not to pay their taxes. He was required to leave the district and when he refused a deportation order was signed by the Governor. He resisted the enforcement of the order, and was taken away under escort in a car: he started a struggle with his guards and succeeded in escaping into Portuguese territory. He was handed back by the Portuguese authorities, arrested as a result of his resistance to the police, and is now being held on remand.

Mrs. White

Does that mean he is to be brought to a public trial; and, if so, can we be given an idea before what body the trial will be held?

Mr. Lyttelton

I imagine that he will be brought to trial in the ordinary way, for breaches of the law. I might also add, for the benefit of the hon. Lady, that deportation in the context in which I have used it means removal from one district to another in the same territory.

Mr. Dugdale

Would the right hon. Gentleman give a little further information about this matter of resistance and struggle, in view of the fact that Chief Gomani is an elderly gentleman suffering from Parkinson's disease, and that it is highly improbable that he could struggle very hard with anybody?

Mr. Lyttelton

There is no medical evidence to support what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I have been at some pains to look into it and I can only say that in the confusion he succeeded in escaping.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to a report in today's newspaper that Chief Gomani, who is one of the most influential chiefs in Nyasaland, is now under trial; and when the trial is over, will the right hon. Gentleman make a fuller statement of what has happened?

Mr. Lyttelton

I do not think the actual details of this fracas are of particular interest to the House, but if somebody likes to put down a Question I will go into it more fully. Our information is that Chief Gomani was only led into these errors by very strong pressure exerted upon him by Congress and others.

Mr. Griffiths

If Chief Gomani is to be tried, is it fair to him that statements of this kind should be made pending trial?

Mr. Lyttelton

The statement I have made, if the right hon. Gentleman will examine it in HANSARD, is certainly in mitigation of any action of which Chief Gomani has been accused.

Mr. S. Silverman

But he has not been convicted.

Mr. Lyttelton

Certainly. I do not think the use of the word "mitigation" is harmful. I said "of anything of which he is accused."

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