No one, including him, expected Dean T. Simon Farisani to survive the torture he suffered at the hands of the South African police. Before his imprisonment, Farisani, a black Lutheran pastor from Venda, South Africa, weighed 200 pounds. Two months later, he weighed only 120 and had to be hospitalized for almost four months. During a recent visit to the United States, sponsored by Lutheran World Ministries, the 35-year-old Farisani told his gruesome story.

“They banged my head against the wall, pulled off my hair and my beard,” he said. “They made me lie on my back, raise my legs and they kicked me in my private parts. There was blood all over, my head was swollen, and I was breathing through the ears because my eardrums were punctured. I had holes in my knees I could put my fingers in.”

He continues: “Then they took me to a more sophisticated torture station. They undressed me, covered my head in a canvas bag, poured water on the floor and over my head, and connected an electric wire to my ear lobes and to the back of my head. They poured a gluelike substance down my spinal cord and they set the electric current on. I fell into the water; it was terrible.”

Farisani was one of four clergymen among 20 people arrested in connection with the bombing of a police station in October 1981, in which two were killed. A close friend of Farisani’s, a lay preacher named Tshifhiwa Muofhe, was also arrested. Muofhe died during imprisonment and a Venda inquest court determined in July 1982 that Muofhe had been tortured to death by the same policemen who tortured Farisani.

Farisani was never formally charged with the bombing incident. At the time, he was in Johannesburg, hundreds of miles away, attending a council meeting of the Evangelical ...

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