THE CATHOLIC Fund for Overseas Development (CA FOD), the British Council of Churches. and Oxfam have combined to call for the immediate release by South African authorities of Mr Alexander Mbatha and his wife Khosie.
In a strongly-worded telegram. sent to the South African ambassador in London, the agencies talks of the "violent arrest" of the Mbathas.
The arrest, reported in the Herald November 6, took place in the early hours of Thursday. October 22, at the Mbatha's home in Soweto. The Mbatha's two-year old daughter was also held in police cells for two nights before being released to relatives.
The Mbathas were arrested under Section 22 of the General Laws Amendment Act, which allows for detention of up to fourteen days. They have nom, been held for over a month, and without access to legal advice.
Mr Mbatha is a development
worker employed ny the auutn African Bishop's Conference. The President of the Conference, Archbishop Hurley of Durban, has already strongly condemned the arrest. He said: "South Africa's harsh security measures have struck at a respected colleague — Mr Mbatha is a devoted field worker."
Mr Guy Stringer, Deputy Director of Oxfam, said: "We have known Mr and Mrs Mbatha for a number of years and have supported much of Alexander's excellent and committed work with the Bishop's conference, working closely with him on a number of humanitarian and welfare projects among both urban and rural poor in the Republic. We are extremely concerned by the brutal circumstances of the family's arrest — his sister, who was in the house, tells us that both Alexander and Khosie were badly beaten. We are deeply worried about their continuing detention."