Two young Christian Workers in South Africa have been sentenced to five years imprisonment for allegedly conspiring to commit acts of sabotage.
Petrus Makhau, 28, and Jacob Tledima, 23, are among more than 20 YCW members who have been arrested and detained under South Africa's internal security laws since last May. They were accused of conspiring to damage State buildings.
Passing sentence on Mr Makhau and Mr Tledima the magistrate; Mr J. Kuhn said that the 9ttitude of the YCW and the Catholic Church to the Government's apartheid policy had "unconsciously influenced the accused."
The magistrate said that he had no option but to pass the minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment. Bail was refused. But the YCW has made an application for leave to appeal against the sentence, and for bail.
The "Wholesale harassment" of the YCW was an unfortunate episode in the life of the Church according to Archbishop J. Fitzgerald of Johannesburg.
Speaking at the recent South African Bishop's Conference he also referred to bannings and the expected outcome of certain court cases as "regrettable."
The detention of YCW leaders has in the past raised international protests, and CAFOD the Justice and Peace Commission, the Laity Commission and the Catholic Institute for International Relations have been among those to write to the South African Government about the arrest of YCW members.