HC Deb 07 December 1961 vol 650 cc1516-8
16. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will arrange with the Home Office for a Scotland Yard official to proceed to Basutoland to investigate the alleged kidnapping of Mr. Ganyile and two other refugees by police from the Republic of South Africa.

17. Mr. Thorpe

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the extent and nature of the search carried out by the Basutoland police in the huts in Basutoland from which Mr. Anderson Ganyile and two colleagues were allegedly kidnapped on 26th August.

Mr. H. Fraser

No report was received by the authorities in Basutoland until 16th September, over three weeks after the reputed date of the alleged abduction.

The immediate police investigation was further hampered by the length of time which had elapsed and by the effects of a prolonged dust storm. The police conducted a full and thorough search and removed for examination a blanket containing bloodstains. Expert investigations show that the blood on the blanket belongs to blood group A, a fairly common group, but it is not possible to deduce whether the blood was shed in late August or at some other date.

An additional point of difficulty is evidence that three persons were seen around the huts in this remote area on 10th September, that is to say after the alleged abduction and before the report was received. So far no further local evidence has come to light.

In these circumstances. I do not consider that assistance from Scotland Yard would be of value.

Nevertheless, I regard it as of paramount importance that incidents or alleged incidents on the border between Basutoland and the Republic of South Africa should be prevented and I am, therefore, taking steps to increase the strength of the Basutoland Mounted Police and notably the C.I.D. of that force.

Mr. Brockway

While welcoming that last acknowledgment, may I ask the hon. Gentleman if it is not a fact that fourteen weeks have now passed since this alleged kidnapping? Whilst that is predominantly due to the extraordinary postponement of any judgment in the court of the Republic on habeas corpus, is not the hon. Gentleman also aware that there is very considerable criticism of the actions of the police in these investigations and in co-ordinating the evidence? If county police in this country can ask for the assistance of Scotland Yard, is it not desirable that less experienced police in Basutoland should also ask for the assistance of Scotland Yard in this case?

Mr. Fraser

I have gone into this and I hope that what I have said today will give some reassurance and that we shall not be deflected by reports which appear to have been tendentious in some newspapers.

Mr. Thorpe

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his indication about the prospective strengthening of the frontier police will be warmly welcomed? Will he agree that it is vital that all the obtainable evidence should be collated? Is he aware that on 3rd October, Patrick Duncan, the son of a former Governor-General and a prominent member of the South African Liberal Party, visited this hut at Qacha's Nek and during that visit discovered in the hut bloodstained cardboard which had been used for shutters? Is he further aware that those bloodstains have been analysed by Dr. Francis Camps and that I have the analysis of that investigation here? Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this indicates that the police may well have overlooked much vital evidence? Does he not agree, therefore, that there is a strong case for reconsidering the question of sending out a Scotland Yard officer?

Mr. Fraser

No, I cannot agree. The police made a thorough investigation on 16th September and, as I said, it is not absolutely certain that some of the evidence may not have been tampered with.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is uneasiness in more than one quarter of this House? While associating myself with much that has been said, may I at the same time urge upon him not to regard this incident as closed?