WASHINGTON -- John Matisonn, a South African journalist sentenced to jail nearly two years ago for refusing to reveal his news sources, was ordered to return to his country Tuesday to serve 14 days in prison.
Matisonn, now Washington correspondent for six South African newspapers, including the Rand Daily Mail, originally was sentenced to jail for two weeks in 1979.
After unsuccessfully petitioning South Africa's highest court, the Court of Appeals, he was released after his newspaper posted bond of $65.
Matisonn, 31, resigned as president of the Southern African Society ofJournalists and went to Washington to begin his new assignment.
Tuesday the editor of the Johannesburg News told Matisonn by telephone that he has been ordered to serve the two-weeks jail term.
The case stems from Matisonn's refusal to reveal the names of two sources of a story he wrote for the Sunday Express in December, 1978 about the government's financing of an anti-Apartheid religious organization, Christian League.
The scandal, first denied and later admitted by the government, eventually toppled Prime Minister John Voorster from power.
The scandal is known in South Africa as 'Muldergate', after then Minister of Information Cornelious Mulder who founded The Citizen -- a government-front newspaper -- with the same secret bank account used for Christian League.
The account was established in Washington, where Christian League is registered as a foreign agent.
Christian League, headed by Rev. Fred Shaw, a Methodist minister, was formed to fight the South African Council of Churches, which opposes South Africa's Apartheid system.
It was also recently revealed that despite 'Muldergate,' the current government of Prime Minister Pieter Botha continued to fund Christian League.
Shaw and foreign minister R.F. Botha had a one-year contract to continue funding the organization through the country's information ministry.
However when Botha -- who also heads the information ministry -- publicly admitted the arrangement, Shaw took him to court. According to the Shaw-Botha contract, if one party publicly revealed the arrangment, the other may sue him. The case is pending.
R.F. Botha is scheduled to visit the United States next month for talks with Secretary of State Alexander Haig.
Matisonn, whose cause has been championed by the South African press and opposition parities, plans to return to South Africa Thursday to begin serving his sentence.
'In a way, because this has been going on for so long, it's nice to see it settled and resolved and put behind me,' he said. 'Of course, obviously, I don't think it is right or proper or fair.'
After serving his sentence, the government may take Matisonn before a magistrate and ask him to reveal his sources. The unnamed sources are charged by the government with libel against the state.
If Matisonn again refuses to answer, he could be liable for an additional two-year sentence.