HC Deb 30 April 1963 vol 676 cc875-7
4. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what exchange of information or co-operation there is between the police force in Basutoland and the South African police force when warrants are issued for searching the premises occupied by refugees from South Africa or for arresting them in Basutoland.

13. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what facilities are given to the South African police by the Basutoland authorities to enable them to obtain information from refugees from South Africa regarding political activities in South Africa.

Mr. Fisher

I assume that the reference in Question No. 4 is to the issue of a warrant authorising police searches in Maseru on 1st April. There was no prior exchange of information or cooperation between the Basutoland Police Force and the South African Police Force over the issue of warrants for search or arrest. The Answer to Question No. 13 is that no facilities are given to the South African police.

Mr. Brockway

While no one who knows the High Commissioner would suspect that he was in favour of such collaboration—and would accept his denial—nevertheless, is it not a fact that South African newspapers, both nationalist and opposition, have reported the exchange of the list of prisoners or suspected persons which was found at Maseru? Is it not a fact that the Commissioner and large numbers of the Basutoland police are South Africans? Is he aware that I hold in my hand an affidavit from one of the suspected persons who reports that during a three-hour interrogation a South African Republican policeman was present and was taking notes throughout that interview? Will he make inquiries as to whether there is this collusion?

Mr. Fisher

I can categorically assure the hon. Member that no South African police have on any occasion been present at any interrogation. I ask him to accept this statement. I have checked it carefully and I am sure that this is so. I would add that in view of the special problems created by the internal policies of the South African Government, the police of the High Commission Territories are instructed to be particularly careful to avoid giving information which might be used to secure arrests or prosecutions in the Republic for acts which would be offences under South African law but which would not be offences under the law of the High Commission Territories if committed in those Territories. My right hon. Friend has reminded our authorities there of these obligations and instructions.

Mrs. Castle

Is it not a fact that the South African police move quite freely about Basutoland and thus have direct personal contact with officials in the Basutoland Police Force? A number of them, such as, for example, the Commissioner of Police for Basutoland, Colonel Paul Kitson—who comes from Stellenbosch—originated in South Africa. The Commissioner will presumably retire there and must inevitably be faced with a severe conflict of loyalties in view of the South African position. In view of this, will the Under-Secretary take steps to have those members of the Basutoland Police Force who are of South African origin transferred for service in other parts of the Commonwealth and their places filled by non-South African policemen?

Mr. Fisher

I will certainly look at the hon. Lady's last point and I am grateful to her for suggesting it. I did not know that the South African police moved freely in the Protectorate, and I will look into that point, too. I can assure the hon. Lady that in this particular case there was no prior consultation or information given or anything of that sort. This is a categorical assurance.

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