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South African Church Leaders Discuss Return of Exiles With ANC

April 22, 1990

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ Forty South African religious leaders began a two-day meeting Saturday with African National Congress officials to discuss the return of South African exiles.

The Rev. John Lamola, head of the ANC religious affairs department, said long-term exiles are expected to encounter difficulties finding homes and jobs when they return home.

They are also likely to face emotional stress in readjusting to life in white-governed South Africa, he said.

About 20,000 South Africans, including ANC members and other apartheid opponents, are estimated to be living in exile worldwide. Many have been abroad for as long as 25 years.

″We’ll be discussing the response of the churches to the plight of these exiles,″ said Lamola. ″We want to draw the attention of those in South Africa to these problems.″

The religious delegation included representatives from the South African Council of Churches, the Catholic Bishops Conference, and the Moslem, Hindu and Jewish communities.

Medical experts and social workers from South Africa were also taking part in the discussions.

In reforms announced Feb. 2, South African President F.W. de Klerk lifted bans on the ANC and other anti-apartheid opposition organizations.

The ANC, which advocates black majority rule, is to hold talks in early May with de Klerk on the political future of the country, which has some 28 million blacks and 5 million whites.

The ANC moved its headquarters to the Zambian capital of Lusaka after it was banned by South African authorities in 1960.