Rhodesian security forces operating in the northeast of the country have been accused of carrying out deliberate assaults and showing gross disregard for the inhabitants of the area, in a report issued by the Catholic commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia.
SV Bishop Lamont seated in garden facing reporter
CU Bishop Lamont listens to question before replying
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 2: REPORTER: "What about the allegations the Government has made about the brutality to civilians by the guerrilla forces?"
BISHOP LAMONT: "O, I have no doubt at all about it that the guerrilla forces have been guilty of many brutal acts. But I don't accept it on the word of the Government information office. I'd like to know, for instance, what care is taken to ensure that these people who have been killed are indeed terrorists. You know we have established in the dossier the case of the bombing of seven little boys, the eldest fourteen, who were thought to be terrorists. This is the Government excuse for it. They were bombed from the air, two of them were killed and the others maimed. And when their bodies were taken away their parents didn't know. Did the Government establish clearly who these people were, these so-called terrorists? I doubt it. I doubt these Government pieces of information, really and truly. we have a case on our books of an unfortunate man a Methodist lay-preacher who was beaten up and then taken up in a helicopter and never returned. And we have a letter from Mr. Lardner-Burke in which he says that this unfortunate man broke his own neck by stretching it. When we asked about an inquest, he said an inquest had been carried out by Government medical officers. When we asked for the body because the man left a wife and children, we didn't get the body. Neither inquest, nor body for burial. So I have grave suspicions.
REPORTER: "Bishop Lamont, is this the right time to have published a document with these allegations in it? Isn't it a time in Rhodesian history to cool things rather than to inflame them?"
BISHOP LAMONT: "The decision to publish the document was not determined by political circumstance. There is always a time for justice. It's an established legal aphorism: 'Justice delayed is justice denied'. We took a long time to prepare these documents and without any reference to the peculiar political circumstances obtaining at this moment the document was published as soon as it could be properly prepared. And certainly, I've said this before, I think it ought to do something to defuse the explosive situation among the African population who feel themselves terribly oppressed at this moment."
Initials CL/1802 CL/1806
This film includes and interview with Bishop Lamont in English.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Rhodesian security forces operating in the northeast of the country have been accused of carrying out deliberate assaults and showing gross disregard for the inhabitants of the area, in a report issued by the Catholic commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia.
Monseigneur Donal Lamont, Bishop of Umtali and President of the commission, says he hopes publication of the report will do something to defuse the "explosive situation" which exists in Rhodesian African society.