Percy Qoboza, South Africa's best known black editor is back in circulation. His newspaper is not.
The World remains banned, and Qoboza, 40, recently released after almost five months in detention without trial, wants the ban lifted.
"My paper can only be as innocent or as guilty as I am. If they release me without pressing any charges, I don't see why my newspaper should continue under ban," Qoboza said, sitting at the desk from which he used to edit The World.
But the government has not indicated that it will lift the ban imposed on the newspaper Oct. 19 because it was allegedly producing a revolutionary climate and encouraging unrest in Soweto, the black ghetto of 1.2 million people just outside Johannesburg.
On the same day, Qoboza and about 60 other black community leaders were put into "preventive detention." Partly because of international protests, the government released Qoboza and nine others March 10.
The experience of being detained without trial "has not changed my beliefs," Qoboza said in an interview yesterday. "It has strengthed my faith and determination. Far from being intimidated as people hoped, you come out of jail with a clearer concept and a new commitment . . . to renew with greater vigor your call for a new legal system in which the individual's liberties are not violated."
Next week Qoboza will become editor of The Post, a paper that became The World's substitute, but lacks its political punch.
Qoboza said his new position is not a continuation of my job at The World; I'm not quite sure how I'm going to operate yet.
"One must not forget that there is a vacuum of five months in my mind as to how my people are thinking and reacting," he said.
Qoboza said the new minister for black affairs, Connie Mulder, was "making charming noises" about changes. "But I haven't made any judgements yet because I haven't met the man. Many factors will influence me as to what kind of newspaper The Post will be."
The government has placed no restrictions on Qoboza but there is speculation that he may come under some pressure from the white-owned publishing company that publishes The Post to tone down his outspoken criticism of the government. His column, "Percy's Pitch," helped provoke the government's action against The World in October.
Qoboza called lhis editorials "a truthful reflection of the true sentiments of my people.
"Obviously one will sometimes reflect in that mirror certain realities of the South African situation which other people do not like," he said.
"It's clear that the government, far from improving those images in the mirror, prefers to take a hammer and break the mirror."
Qoboza admitted that holding up such a mirror to South African society might land him back in jail. "It might happen to me again," he said.
"Being a black editor adds greater responsibility, greater tensions. Black South Africa will not leave you alone. White South Africa will not lleave you alone."
Before he was detained, Qoboza had been shot, his house was hit by a gasoline bomb and he was called a sellout by radical blacks. Many of his friends who fear for his safety have urged him to leave South Africa and work in the United States, where he spent a year as a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 1975-76. But Qoboza says he thinks that no job there could hold the "emotional involvement" of his present job.
"I am not a martyr. I would like to lead a normal life in my job and home environments. I do not enjoy being gotten up in the wee hours of the morning and taken to the police station and I do not relish phone calls from faceless people who say they will shoot me in the street," he said.
Qoboza said that being in detention fostered a lot of bitterness. He said he once locked himself in a hotel room after being freed "to have an open confrontation with myself to make sure my bitterness did not disorient me."
"With the help of my friends - both black and white - I've been able to overcome the worst part of detention, the anger and the bitterness.
"But any editor in South Africa needs to be angry and bitter if he's going to meet the situation here face to face," he said.