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S. Africa Frees Noted Black Editor

July 19, 1986|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Zwelakhe Sisulu, editor of the New Nation newspaper and one of South Africa's most prominent black activists, was released Friday after three weeks of detention under the nationwide state of emergency.

Sisulu, 36, son of Albertina Sisulu and imprisoned African National Congress official Walter Sisulu, told a news conference at his attorney's office that when he was taken from his Soweto home before dawn on June 27, "I was told the paper would be closed down. I was surprised to learn today that the paper was actually being published.

"It's a great relief to be out. I wish it will be a precedent for others."

He said he was not mistreated, but other details from his account cannot be published under the emergency regulations. Among those are rules that forbid reporting of security force actions without official permission, quoting "subversive statements" and identifying people detained under the emergency decree.

Mandela Turns 68

In Soweto, the black township outside Johannesburg, black activist Winnie Mandela spent the day fasting as her husband, Nelson Mandela, observed his 68th birthday in Pollsmoor Prison near Cape Town. She has gone without food on each of the 24 birthdays that her husband, the former head of the outlawed African National Congress, has spent in prison since being convicted of conspiracy overthrow the government.

"We have had nothing to rejoice about," she told a crowd of reporters gathered in the yard of her home, adding that the day has "always been a reminder that we've never had a family life."

On a table sat the uneaten cake from their wedding in 1958. A banning order imposed on Mandela at the time did not permit him to remain for the full four days of the ceremony. The two-layer cake, once white, has become almost fossilized in the 28 years since it was baked.

Labor Leaders Arive

Meanwhile, Lane Kirkland, president of the American AFL-CIO union, and other world labor leaders arrived Friday to support the black union movement and seek the release of an estimated 269 of its leaders detained under the emergency decree.

Kirkland said his delegation came to express "our concern and our outrage at the imprisonment of trade unionists for carrying out their trade union commitments, and urge their release."

The labor leaders represent the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions based in Brussels. Kirkland said the members would try, during five days in South Africa, to visit some union leaders in jail and discuss the detentions with government officials.

Also in the delegation were Norman Willis, general secretary of Britain's Trades Union Congress; John Vanderveken, general secretary of the international group; Ernst Breit, president of the West German Trade Union Federation; and Karre Sandegren, a top official of the Norwegian Trade Union Federation.

The Brussels-based group is the world's largest labor federation and includes unions representing 82 million workers in 99 countries.

A U.S. Information Service official said the Rev. Brian Burchfield, an American Lutheran Church minister ordered out of the country, left for the United States via Amsterdam on a flight Friday evening.

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