HC Deb 29 January 1962 vol 652 cc701-5
24. Mr. Brockway

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations have been made to the Government of the Republic of South Africa regarding the detention by the South African police of a British protected person, Mr. Ambrose Zwane, secretary of the People's Party, when returning from a conference of the Bechuanaland People's Party.

Mr. Godber

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given by my hon. Friend to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) on 25th January.

Mr. Brockway

May I ask whether any assurance has been given by the Government of the Republic of South Africa that British subjects passing from one British protectorate to another shall be allowed full transit facilities over the territory of the Republic?

Mr. Godber

We have brought this matter strongly to the attention of South Africa, which, no doubt, contributed to the result in this case. I think that this is a matter which we have made plain to the South African authorities, and we trust that there will be no repetition.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Minister aware that this is not the only incident of this kind and that there is considerable danger of the number of actions of this kind increasing? Is he aware that he may avoid even greater difficulties in future were he to make perfectly clear now that we take a very serious view of it?

Mr. Godber

I think that we have already taken steps to that end with regard to this particular action.

25. Mr. Brockway

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information the Government of the Republic of South Africa have provided regarding the alleged kidnapping on 26th August of Anderson Ganyile and two other Africans from Basutoland by South African police.

33. Mr. Wall

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a further statement about the arrest and subsequent release of Mr. Ganyile.

50. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on the case of Mr. Ganyile.

55. Dr. A. Thompson

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement about the alleged kidnapping on 26th August of Mr. Anderson Ganyile and two other Africans.

Mr. Godber

The South African Government have now given us a full account of the circumstances of Mr. Ganyile's arrest by South African police on Basutoland territory. They have informed us that the South African police crossed into Basutoland by mistake while searching for suspected murderers in the South African native trust territory adjoining Basutoland and arrested Mr. Ganyile and his companions under the mistaken impression that they were the individuals for whom they were searching. The South African Government have expressed their regrets at this violation of British territory and they have also released Mr. Ganyile and his companions without pursuing the charges against them. We have left the South African Government in no doubt of the serious view which we take of this violation of Basutoland territory.

Mr. Brockway

Is not this just a shocking delay on the part of the Government of the Republic in providing our Government with information? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these three men were kidnapped from British territory away back on 26th August? Is he aware that they have been kept in prison ever since, most of the time in solitary confinement? In these circumstances, will the Government not only demand an apology from the Government of the Republic but ask that proper compensation shall be paid to the three men?

Mr. Godber

As I have said, we have already expressed our very serious view of the circumstances. We made continual representations in this case, and that, I believe, has led to the outcome which We have seen. The South African Government are in no doubt of our views about this. Regarding the question of compensation, I understand that Mr. Ganyile is making a claim for compensation from the South African Government. I think that those representations should go forward in his name.

Mr. Wall

What steps are the Administration in Basutoland taking to prevent a repetition of this disgraceful mistake? Where are these three men now, and may I have an assurance that they will be allowed to return to Basutoland?

Mr. Godber

The Basutoland authorities are taking steps to deal with this matter. Mr. Ganyile has returned to Basutoland and has applied for permission to reside there. His application is being considered in the normal way according to the normal procedures of Basutoland.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the suggestion that these police officers were not aware that they were in a protected territory and were not aware that the persons they were arresting were Mr. Ganyile and his companions is totally unconvincing? Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that Mr. Ganyile, I understand, wishes to proceed to Durban to make a claim against the Government? Will the hon. Gentleman therefore facilitate his journey to Durban, which I understand has not been granted by the South African Government?

Mr. Godber

On the first part of that question, the facts I related were as given by the South African Government, that is, as to the history, as they gave them to us. As to the second part, Mr. Ganyile is a South African resident, a South African national, and as such presumably would be subject to South African laws in relation to travel in that territory. I have explained his position in Basutoland.

Dr. Thompson

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very strong feeling in Basutoland on this issue—by the Basutoland Freedom Party and the Congress Party—that there should be a full investigation of the matter? Will he press for an inquiry of this kind?

Mr. Godber

Certainly if further facts can be brought to light I shall do that, but the facts we have given, the release secured and the apology given I think clarify the position very much.

Mr. P. Williams

While not always supporting all the attacks made on South Africa, may I ask if my hon. Friend will agree that the issue of compensation is one which can be legitimately pursued in this matter?

Mr. Godber

As I have indicated, Mr. Ganyile proposes to seek compensation. He is a South African national and it is for him to pursue the matter.

Mr. Dugdale

Are we to understand that Her Majesty's Government will support a claim for compensation? That is what we want to know; it is a specific question.

Mr. Godber

As I have indicated, a claim for compensation has gone in. It is for Mr. Ganyile to put the claim forward. I do not think that support from Her Majesty's Government arises at this time.

Mr. H. Wilson

Since the Government are not as simple as the hon. Gentleman is making them appear, will he answer this question? Since the police officers concerned must have known within a few hours that they were in the wrong country, and since this occurred last August and it has taken four or five months to find that the charges which have been laid were not appropriate, will he make absolutely clear here and now that the apology we have had is not sufficient for everything that has happened and that the Government will firmly stand behind Mr. Ganyile in the matter of compensation for this quite illegal detention?

Mr. Godber

I think the two points are separate. On the question of Her Majesty's Government's protest, we have made quite clear that we take a very serious view of what has taken place. As to Mr. Ganyile's application for compensation, I think it should go forward in the normal way. He is a South African citizen and should make his application through the courts.