A government commission charged with examining South Africa's stringent domestic security laws today recommended only minor modifications of provisions for detentions without trial and the banning of citizens deemed dangerous to the state.
The commission said that retention of the security laws was necessary because South Africa has been the target of sabotage and terrorism by organizations trying to overthrow the government with the help of communist countries and neighboring African nations.
Appointment of the commission in 1979 was part of a reform program by Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha. Since then Botha has retreated in the face of strong opposition in his predominantly Afrikaner, all-white, ruling National Party.
The commission recommended only minor modifications, including introduction of a system of review for ministerial decisions to detain or ban individuals and outlaw organizations.
This was welcomed by opposition politicians as a modest improvement.
Security police currently are holding more than 180 persons without charges. Another 120 persons are banned--confined to a city or district where they may not be in the company of more than one person at a time, may not be quoted by the media, and sometimes have to abide by a curfew.
The commission recommended that detainees should have the right to appeal every six months to a three-member review board reporting to the minister. A similar process of review was proposed for banned individuals.
The commission also recommended slightly eased rules for persons in solitary confinement by permitting visits by a magistrate and government doctor every two weeks. Under the Terrorism Act, individuals can be held in solitary confinement indefinitely without access to family or lawyers.
The board also proposed appointment of special inspectors of detainees who would visit and report on them to the minister of law and order, a proposed new Cabinet post.
The chief of police should have the power to allow visits from other people, the panel said.
The commission also recommended that the chief of police apply to the minister of law and order every month to extend detention.
Organizations can be banned if the minister of police considers them subversive or supportive of any of the aims of communism, which is only loosely defined in South African law.
The commission recommended that the definition of communism be made more precise and also that the new minister of law and order appoint a three-member committee to advise him before banning an organization. Moreover, a banned organization would be able to appeal the decision to the chief justice.
Other minor modifications suggested include a tightening of rules governing telephone tapping and mail interception.