ARCHBISHOP Denis Hurley of Durban, head of the South African Church has issued a strongly worded protest to the South African authorities after detention on Sunday by security police of Fr Smangalisa Mkhatshwa, Secretary-General of the Southern African Bishops Conference.
Fr Mkhatshwa was arrested in the tribal "homeland" of Ciskei after a prayer meeting at Fort Hare University in Alice.
South African police had admitted they are holding him incommunicado, but earlier this week had not given reasons for his arrest, Archbishop Hurley's
statement said: "Our information is that he attended a prayer service organised by the student Christian movement at Fort Hare on Sunday, October 30, and that shortly afterwards he and a student, the leader of the Catholic Students Association, were detained by the Ciskeian police.
"The student has been released but we have been unable to discover the whereabouts of Fr Mkhatshwa.
"This anxiety confirms how detestable a political situation becomes when the rule of law is discarded and people disappear into detention without trace.
"We protest in the strongest possible terms and call upon whatever State organisation is responsible to release Fr Mkhatshwa immediately or inform us about his place of detention or the charges against him."