Three of the most prominent black activists detained under state-of-emergency regulations have escaped and taken refuge in the U.S. consulate, a lawyer said Tuesday.

They have demanded a meeting with U.S. Ambassdor Edward Perkins, said the lawyer, Krish Naidoo.Two of the three are senior officials of the banned United Democratic Front - publicity secretary Murphy Morobe and treasurer Valli Moosa. The other is Vusi Khanyile, chairman of the banned National Education Crisis Committee.

Naidoo, who has represented the democratic front in the past, announced at a press conference that the three had taken refuge Tuesday at the U.S. consulate, on the 11th floor of a high-rise office building in downtown Johannesburg.