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'Prisoners in Our Minds'--New Curbs in S. Africa

December 04, 1986|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

"It was more than harassment," she said of her detention in June. "There was a fair amount of intimidation during the interrogation, threats that if I did not comply I would be detained for six months. After being told that, in fact, I would be detained for six months and having steeled myself and built up my defenses for what might be indefinite detention, it was quite a shock to be released rather suddenly."

Feared 2nd Detention

But Harnden was concerned that she might be detained again, and perhaps more harshly treated, after a police raid on a meeting of the Johannesburg Democratic Action Committee, known as Jodac, at which the group's chairman was detained and she and other participants were questioned and their homes searched.

In the end, restriction orders were served on her and the six other activists, all members of either Jodac or the End Conscription Campaign. The orders prohibit them from participating in certain groups' activities that call for the release of political prisoners, demand an end to the state of emergency, protest any security force actions, urge the legalization of the African National Congress or oppose compulsory military service.

Although the activists insist that the restrictions in the long run can do no more than slow their struggle against apartheid, they do acknowledge their impact in the short term.

Mike Loewe, 26, a free-lance journalist based in Port Elizabeth, was barred on his release after 83 days in detention from writing or working on any publication as well as from involvement with anti-apartheid and anti-conscription groups.

"It basically leaves me like a mummy," he said, "all wrapped up and unable to do anything."

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