A group of thirty-five prominent South African religious leaders were found guilty of contravening the country's Riotous Assemblies act in Johannesburg on Tuesday (1 July), and three of them elected to go to gaol for fifty days rather than pay a fine.
GV St. Albans Church, Johannesburg.
SV Bishop Desmond Tutu with his wife and other men walking in street. (2 SHOTS)
GV Bishop Tutu, wife and second man enter courthouse building.
GV INTERIOR Crowd in entrance hall in court building.
CU Bishop Tutu embraced by supporters.
CU Sign reading 'Court 14'
SV Bishop Tutu speaking to reporters in English.
TRANSCRIPT: TUTU: "I can't speak for other people but I would say I mean that if we're going to have something that we believe to be a religious service then a number of us would probably say that we cannot allow somebody to tell us, especially if we are wanting to mourn, someone tell us 'I now permit you to, mourn, and now I am telling you not to mourn'. I've tried to say to Mr. Schlebusch -- but I mean this is a very provocative step. And he told me the last time that first of all he had thought about it very seriously and the second was that it would only be for a short time. Now he's extended it.
And that is the kind of thing we're getting in the country here where the Parliament gets to be bypassed, so much power is being put in the hands of bureaucrats and more and more we are beginning to forget that we are human beings."
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Background: A group of thirty-five prominent South African religious leaders were found guilty of contravening the country's Riotous Assemblies act in Johannesburg on Tuesday (1 July), and three of them elected to go to gaol for fifty days rather than pay a fine. A Johannesburg magistrate found the thirty-five guilty of attending an illegal gathering and disturbing the traffic. All the accused pleaded not guilty to the first charge, but guilty to the second.
SYNOPSIS: Before the trial began the churchmen held a meeting at St. Albans Church nearby. Among those who appeared in court were black Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu, the Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches, and his wife Leah.
Fifty-three church leaders were arrested on May 26 when they were marching towards John Vorster Square police Headquarters in protest against the detention of a coloured colleague who was later freed. Seventeen of the accused paid admission of guilt fines before the trial began. One marcher, a visiting Canadian clergyman was refused a visa to return for the court case.
After the trial Bishop Tutu spoke to newsmen.