DURBAN, South Africa — Dozens of political detainees were freed around South Africa today, and the governing National Party debated ways to preserve white power and meet black demands for social change.
Business Day, a Johannesburg newspaper, said Justice Frank Smuts confirmed the release of 42 detainees held in the Orange Free State town of Frankfort, after a ruling Monday by the Natal Province Supreme Court that the government exceeded its powers in parts of emergency regulations under which thousands of people have been held since June 12.
The South African Press Assn. said eight activists from Lenasia, an Asian township outside Johannesburg, were freed Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Detainees Parents Support Committee, the main independent monitoring group, said it is impossible to tell how many people have been released since the ruling.
But newspapers quoted lawyers around the country as saying a significant number of people have been freed.
Law and Order Minister Louis le Grange said Tuesday that the government will appeal the Natal court ruling.
On Tuesday, President Pieter W. Botha opened a two-day meeting of his National Party with a speech that suggested that a referendum or an early election might be held soon to seek white voters' endorsement of changes leading to a greater political role for blacks. However, his government rejects black demands for a one-man, one-vote system.