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Spy Fails To Gain Release

September 9, 1988

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) _ A Swiss woman imprisoned for spying for the Soviet Union was rebuffed by a judge Thursday after trying to gain freedom by renouncing violence.

President P.W. Botha offered to release jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela if he renounces violence. Lawyers for Ruth Gerhardt said the offer should apply to any security prisoner, but Supreme Court Justice R.J. Goldstone disagreed.

The judge said Botha’s offer was not a binding obligation, but rather a promise to consider the release of security prisoners who renounced violence.

Mrs. Gerhardt was convicted of treason Dec. 31, 1983 and is serving a 10- year prison sentence.

Her husband, Dieter Gerhardt, was sentenced to life imprisonment at the same trial after both were convicted of being spies for the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency. He was commanding officer at the South African naval dockyard at Simonstown, near Cape Town, at the time of his arrest.

Mandela, 70, South Africa’s best-known black leader, is serving a life sentence for sabotage and plotting to overthrow the white-led government. The African National Congress is the main guerrilla group fighting to overthrow the government.

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