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June 12, 1987

Dr Wendy Orr and the Health of Detainees in South Africa-Reply

JAMA. 1987;257(22):3068-3069. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390220066015

In reply.—  Dr Retief's apologia calls for correction:His assertion that the case was withdrawn is false. The case was never withdrawn. The injunction against the police could not be extended in June 1986 because all the detainees protected by the original injunction had been released from detention.The fact that the temporary injunction lapsed, however, did not dispose of the case. In South African law, the winning party is generally awarded its legal costs. This meant that notwithstanding the fact that the applicants were no longer in need of protection, the Supreme Court still had to decide which party was entitled to its legal costs. This would have entailed the court hearing evidence and investigating the merits of the applicants' allegations. Had the police not tendered to pay the applicants' costs, the case would have been heard in open court. The legal costs amounted to 420 000 rand (approximately $250 000