From Biko to Wendy Orr: the Problem of Medical Accountability in Contexts of Political Violence and Torture

  • Mary Rayner


Since the 1960s the white minority government of South Africa has used detention without charge or trial to crush opposition to its apartheid policies. Beginning with the ‘90-day detention’ law of 1963 and culminating in the detention clauses of the 1967 Terrorism Act, the police eventually gained the right to detain a person incommunicado and indefinitely without trial for the purposes of interrogation. Under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, the police were permitted to detain a person until he/she ‘has satisfactorily replied to all questions at the said interrogation or that no useful purpose will be served by his further detention’. The courts of law were explicitly denied the power to pronounce upon the validity of any action taken under this section or to order the release of any detainee. Section 6 denied to anyone other than a handful of government officials the right of access to or information about any detainee.


Political Violence South African Medical Journal Security Police Federal Council Medical Accountability 
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Copyright information

© N. Chabani Manganyi and André du Toit 1990

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  • Mary Rayner

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