A Public Memorandum on Human Rights in South Africa

by Committee on the Breytenbach Case
San Francisco, California, United States
March 5, 1977
2 pages
Type: Memorandum
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
The memorandum says on 3 March 1977 the London TIMES reported the award of a South African literary prize to the Afrikaner (white) poet Breyten Breytenbach; as the British paper noted, Breytenbach was sentenced in 1975 to nine years imprisonment for alleged subversion on behalf of the banned African National Congress. The memorandum says Breyten Breytenbach is a poet and painter of international reputation, and a leading spokesman for the anti-apartheid white youth in South Africa; Breytenbach's arrest came while he was carrying out anti-apartheid resistance work, using a false passport; an officer of the South African secret police, BOSS (Bureau of Security Services), directed the investigation and prosecution of Breytenbach in a way that excited the dismay of a representative of the International Commission of Jurists appointed to observe the trial. The memorandum says there is considerable evidence that Breytenbach was tortured into signing a police-dictated "confession" and "apology to the South African government." The memorandum says there is evidence that torture and solitary confinement (in force since his sentencing on 24 November 1975) have completely broken down Breytenbach's mental condition.  The memorandum says the Committee on the Breytenbach Case calls on all people of conscience in the U.S. to demand that the South African government IMMEDIATELY: a) release Breyten Breytenbach from solitary confinement; b) allow access to Breytenbach by competent legal and medical authorities capable of advising him on his situation. The memorandum says writers active in favor of Breytenbach include Jerome Rothenberg, Philip Levine, Adrian Mitchell, and many others; Andre Brink, the leading South African (Afrikaner) novelist, author of LOOKING ON DARKNESS and AN INSTANT IN THE WIND, has continuously worked on Breytenbach's behalf. The memorandum includes a list of names of people who has endorsed the Committee on the Breytenbach Case. The memorandum discusses the African National Congress (ANC), human rights, and Amnesty International. [Note: the correct name of BOSS is Bureau of State Security.]
Collection: Helen Hopps papers