[0n June 20th Breyten Breytenbach, white South Africa's most renowned literary and artistic figure--the recent recipient of both Europe and South Africa's highest literary awards, …]

by Committee for the Defense of Breyten Breytenbach
Washington, DC, United States
June 6, 1977
3 pages
Type: Press Release
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
The press release says on June 20th Breyten Breytenbach, white South Africa's most renowned literary and artistic figure--the recent recipient of both Europe and South Africa's highest literary awards--will stand trial under the Vorster regime's infamous Terrorism Act for the second time in two years. The press release says it is expected that the trial will be a test of the apartheid regime's ability to deal with "one of its own"; for Breyten Breytenbach, coming as he does from the heart of Afrikanerdom (his family is a staunch supporter of the Vorster government) represents perhaps a greater symbolic threat to apartheid than the millions of restive blacks; in terms of sheer military might, white South Africa can outbid the entire black African continent. What it cannot tolerate, however, is internal disunity. The press release says the trial on June 20th is expected to receive international attention, as did the first trial in November 1975 at which Breytenbach was accused under the Terrorism Act and the Suppression of Communism Act of helping to set up an illegal organization to promote armed struggle in South Africa to overthrow the white government; he was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for this offense. The press release says prior to his arrest in 1975, Breytenbach had been living in self-imposed exile in Paris; his marriage to a Vietnamese woman made it impossible for the two of them to live as husband and wife in his native country; under South African law, marriage between people of different races is forbidden. The press release says he worked with anti-apartheid groups in Europe and founded Okhela, an anti-apartheid movement of white South Africans which this past year uncovered the conspiracy by which multinational oil companies have been supplying oil to Rhodesia in violation of U.N. sanctions; Breytenbach was arrested by the South African police in August 1975 while travelling inside South Africa in disguise and with false documents. The press release says it was learned that his "confession" had won the release of eleven persons who had been arrested with him. The press release says Breytenbach has been held in solitary confinement for the past two years; reports from reliable sources indicated that he had been severely tortured and that at one point earlier this year he had been suicidal; however, many believe that the new trial, and in addition the denial of a visitor's visa to his wife, indicates that Breytenbach may be beginning to fight back; it is expected that the charges this time will be even more severe than at the earlier trial and could likely result in the death penalty. The press release includes a quote by a member of the International Commission of Jurists.
Collection: Helen Hopps papers