The Takoma Park City Council will consider next month whether to grant sanctuary to a black South African student who says he was tortured by police in his homeland for his political and educational activities but who now faces deportation.
The student visa of Thembekile Enoch (Twiggs) Xiphu, 31, a city resident and graduate student at Howard University, expired in 1981, when he first applied to this country for political asylum.
His requests have been denied by the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service. Xiphu's lawyer, Carolyn Waller, said that INS had ruled that because his student visa had expired he should go back to Botswana, where he had fled from South Africa in 1977.
INS officials are expected to hear Xiphu's latest appeal for political asylum in several weeks, city officials said.
In an interview with The Washington Post earlier this year, Xiphu said that he was tortured by the South African Security Police for his efforts to improve science education for black students and for his antiapartheid work.
Xiphu said then that he feared that if he was returned to South Africa he would be jailed or killed.
The Takoma Park City Council is scheduled to act on a resolution at its Sept. 4 meeting that would declare Takoma Park a "sanctuary city" for South Africans, Mayor Sammie A. Abbott said.
The resolution would be largely symbolic in nature, Abbott conceded, and would not prevent immigration officials from entering the city and physically removing Xiphu. But the measure would serve as "a deterrent" to such action, he maintained.
In addition, Abbott said, he plans to ask Maryland Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D) and Michael D. Barnes (D) and Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) and Charles McC. Mathias (R) to intervene on Xiphu's behalf.
After he was imprisoned in 1977 for his activities, Xiphu said, he was placed in solitary confinement for two months. During that time, he said, he was beaten by police with rubber hoses while being questioned. On another occasion, they held him by his legs from the ledge of a 10-story building, Xiphu said.
After his release, Xiphu fled to Botswana and then spent six months in a U.N. refugee camp before coming to this country in 1979 as a scholarship student. Coming Up:
Barnesville Town Commission, 8 p.m. Monday, 17925 Barnesville Rd. Gaithersburg City Council, 7:30 p.m. Monday, City Hall, 31 S. Summit Ave. Poolesville Town Commission, 8 p.m. Monday, Elgin Road and Fisher Avenue.