RANDOLPH VIGNE SIR,--Late in 1961 one George Matanzima paid a
visit to one of the subjects of his brother Chief Kaiser Matanzima in the Transkei, South Africa. George Matanzima claimed that, according to tribal custom, the man had an obligation to slaughter one of his own oxen in honour of the chief's brother. The man disagreed. In the end the man was charged criminally, in the chief's court. On the summons, in the space left blank for specifying the crime, were written the words: 'Failing to cater for Chief George Matanzima.' The man was found guilty of this 'crime' and was fined £20.
A courageous reporter, Randolph Vigne, whose excellent report on the Transkei elections appeared in your pages, discovered this and many other examples of tyrannical rule in the Transkei in January, 1962. He filed his reports to Contact, a liberal fortnightly in Cape Town, of which at the time I was editor. We published the report.
Now, two years later, Randolph Vigne has him- self been summoned to appear in Umtata, capital of the Transkei, on January 28. Though subject to 'city arrest' in Cape Town for five years, his ban has been lifted to enable him to go to Umtata. He is charged with 'the wrongful and unlawful publication' of the George Matanzima report. He is charged under the notorious Proclamation R400 of 1960. 8400 is a simple 'enabling act' which makes illegal any act displeasing to Dr. Verwoerd's government.
Randolph Vigne reports that the first stage of his trial will probably cost £400. Neither he, nor Contact, is able to meet such expenses. If in this country there is anyone who believes, as I do, that people like Randolph Vigne are doing the work of us all in their courageous opposition to racism, and if there is anyone among those who believe this who will give practical effect to his belief, let him send anything he can afford to: Contact, PO Box 1979, Cape Town, South Africa, specifying that the gift is for the defence of Randolph Vigne. The Defence and Aid Fund has indicated that it is too heavily committed with other trials to help in this trial.
Two donations of £25 have already been sent.