Boeremag accused ‘can’t sleep in chains’

2011-06-03 15:41

Four of the Boeremag treason trial accused said that they were unable to sleep or take part in their trial because they were forced to sleep in leg-irons with the lights on.

Their attorney, Paul Kruger, told the Pretoria High Court in Pretoria today that Mike du Toit, Herman van Rooyen, Tom Vorster and Rudi Gouws would bring a formal application about the punitive measures taken against them in jail if the situation could not be sorted out with Correctional Services.

The four staged a failed escape attempt at the high court in Vermeulen Street on Tuesday, along with another accused, Vis Visagie.

They appeared on court today in leg irons and belly chains.

The 72-year-old Visagie, who is under police guard in hospital, underwent open heart surgery this morning.

He had to be rushed to hospital on Wednesday after collapsing in the dock with a heart cramp.

Kruger said he had been instructed that the four accused were being held in isolation in underground punishment cells in the so-called bomb section at the local prison in Pretoria.

He said they had to sleep in leg irons with the lights on at night, which resulted in pain and a serious loss of sleep, which affected their ability to attend their trial.

The accused also complained that they could no longer consult with fellow accused or phone their legal representatives and that their computers had been confiscated.

A retired advocate, Chris de Jager, SC, said he was prepared to act free of charge on behalf of the other six accused in jail, who did not take part in the escape attempt, but were now being punished for “something they did not do”.

The six also appeared in court in leg irons. They too had lost privileges such as getting food and having contact visits with family members at court.

Today, everyone entering the courtroom had to not only go through a metal detector, but also be thoroughly searched.

Van Rooyen and Gouws were on the run for eight months after escaping from the court cells in 2008. Although final legal argument was to have continued today, Judge Eben Jordaan postponed the trial to Monday at the request of one of the defence advocates.

The State has asked for the conviction of all 20 accused on the main charge of high treason, arguing that a right wing plot to violently overthrow the government was continuing to this day.

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