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 March 3, 1977 the London Times reported the award of a South African literary prize to the Afrikaner poet Breyten Breytenbach, who was sentenced in 1975 to nine years imprisonment for alleged subversion on behalf of the banned African National Congress (ANC). Breytenbach is a poet and painter of international reputation and a leading spokesman for the anti-apartheid white youth in South Africa. His 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 State Security), directed the investigation and prosecution of Breytenbach in a way that dismayed a representative of the International Commission of Jurists appointed to observe the trial. There is considerable evidence that Breytenbach was tortured into signing a police-dictated "confession" and "apology to the South African government." There is evidence that torture and solitary confinement (in force since his sentencing on November 24, 1975) have broken down Breytenbach's mental condition.  The Committee calls on people of conscience in the U.S. to demand that the South African government IMMEDIATELY: a) release Breytenbach from solitary confinement, and b) allow access to Breytenbach by competent legal and medical authorities capable of advising him. Writers active in favor of Breytenbach include Jerome Rothenberg, Philip Levine, Adrian Mitchell, and others. Andre Brink, the leading South African (Afrikaner) novelist, author of LOOKING ON DARKNESS and AN INSTANT IN THE WIND, has worked on Breytenbach's behalf. The memorandum lists endorsers of the Committee on the Breytenbach Case and mentions Amnesty International.
Collection: Helen Hopps papers