Donald Woods, the biographer of Steve Biko, is a white South African journalist who fled to Lesotho and found refuge in Britain.
Wiseman Khuzwayo is a black South African journalist who also fled to Lesotho and seeks refuse in Britain.Until yesterday, however, the British government had told Khuzwayo's spon-admitted here.
The newsman's chief patron, Lord Avebury, a leader in the Liberal Party, accused the Home Office of making a "racist rule" to keep Khuzwayo out. So yeaterday, an embarrassed Home Office spokesman said in an interview that officials are taking another look at Khezwayo's case. The indications now are that he, like Woods, will be allowed in.
The episode illustrates the two horses that the Labor government is trying to ride. On the one hand, it opposes South Africa's aparthed policy as well as racism and inequality, in general. On the other, it fears the political impact of demands voiced by Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative leader, to end to all non-white immigration.
Khuzwayo, who is in his 20s, was a reporter on the Durban Daily News. According to his friend, Lord Avebury, the journalist was jailed on charges of treason and sabotage in 1976. But that case collasped when the witnesses against him said that their accusations had been extracted through torture.
South African authorities rearrested Khuzwayo in 1977, again according to Avebury, and held him without charge or trial. This is a practice existing in many former British colonies and is modeled after British law that was still employed in UIster until recently.
Avebury, who is the Liberal spokesman on race and immigration and chairman of Parliament's human rights group, said that Khuzwayo was tortured during his last stay in jail. The journalist was beaten, made to dance on gravel in his bare feet and denied a toilet for long stretches.
The newsman was released in February and escaped to Lesotho in March. But when Avebury sought entrance for him here, Shirley Summer skill, the Home Office under-secretary of state, wrote on May 30, "I cannot hold out much hope."
She said that Khuzwayo does not qualify for entrance because he is safe in Lesotho and has no ties to Britain.
Avebury disputes both points. He notes that South African authorities have kidnaped political refugees in Swaziland. Khuzwayo "is technically safe, but I wouldn't want to bet on it," Avebury said.
The Liberal spokesman insisted that Khuzwayo's ties tio Britain are as close as those of editor Woods. The black reporter has friends in Britain and also wants to continue his interrupted university studies in aneducational stystem resembling South Africa's.
Avebury contends that the Home Office "rules are designed to allow certain white people in and keep blacks out. I can't help suspecting that there is a connection between the hysteria whipped up Mrs. Thatcher and the hard line taken on some immigration cases."
Yesterday, however, officials disclosed that Summerskill will re-examine Averbury's arguments, hinting strongly that KHuzwayo would be allowed in after all.