§ The following Question stood on the Order Paper:
§ 35. Mr. MARQUAND
To ask the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, whether he is now able to make a further statement about the recent strike and disturbances in Maseru. Basutoland.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Bernard Braine)
With permission, I will reply to Question No. 35.
Further information has been received about proceedings in Maseru up to 28th March as follows:
1531 On 16th March and subsequent days, in consequence of the threats to public order, to which I referred in my statement on the 20th March, the police detained a number of persons for such offences as violence or intimidation or acts likely to cause breaches of the peace.
As a result, 26 persons were charged. Of these 1 has been convicted of intimidation, 18 of offences against public order, 6 have been acquitted and 1 is remanded in custody awaiting trial.
In the course of the investigations, the police found a number of other persons whom they had reason to suspect of other offences unconnected with the disturbances. These offences included being in illegal possession of narcotics, vagrancy and non-payment of taxes.
§ Mr. Marquand
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether any of the persons arrested in this way were refugees from South Africa? If so, can he give an assurance to the House that, whatever offence they may or may not have committed, there is no question of returning them to South Africa?
§ Mr. Braine
Yes, Sir. Twelve persons who claimed to be political refugees were detained originally. Of these, three were released at once when it was found that they had already completed their application forms. The other nine subsequently completed application forms and were released. All twelve applications, plus a further two from persons unconnected with these occurrences, were due to be considered by the Maseru District Board yesterday.