After three years on the run, Johnny Issel turns himself in

Community worker and unionist Issel, who has been banned for 13 years of his life and has spent lengthy periods in detention, appeared in the Goodwood Magistrate's Court, Cape Town, yesterday. He was not charged and the case was remanded until April 18. Afterwards Issel and his wife Zubeida Jaffer spoke about the frightening events that led to yesterday's court appearance. About three weeks ago, Issel took a chance and attended a farewell party for a friend in Muizenberg.

The police were tipped off that he would be there and a group of armed plainclothes policemen forced their way in and started searching the beachfront premises where the function was being held. Issel escaped and police fired shots into the dunes and bushes where they thought he might be hiding. At one stage there was talk of setting the bushes alight. Yesterday Issel described the police action as "viciousness of an extreme kind". His lawyers applied for a court order restraining the police from assaulting him or harming him in any way.

Once legal proceedings were underway and independent MP Jan van Eck had raised the matter in parliament, Issel's lawyers were told there was a warrant out for his arrest. Although neither Issel nor his lawyers had been aware of the warrant, it was dated November 11 1987 and issued in terms of Section 13 of the Internal Security Act According to lawyer Essa Moosa, the police this week offered to make several concessions if Issel gave himself up.

Police agreed they would not oppose bail nor would they detain Issel in terms of the Internal Security Act or the State of Emergency regulations. They also agreed to lower the bail from R5 000 to R2 000 and dropped the requirement that he should report to police daily or be confined to the Cape Town magisterial district. He now has to report to the police weekly. Issel and his lawyers dropped the application for an order restraining the police, saying the supporting affidavits were potentially embarrassing for the police. – Sylvia Vollenhoven.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.

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