Boeremag plot would have seen massive bloodshed – judge

2013-10-28 15:25

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South Africa would have seen massive bloodshed and chaos if the Boeremag’s treasonous coup plot had been successful, Pretoria Judge Eben Jordaan has said.

Exactly 10 years after the first witness took the stand in the High Court in Pretoria in the country’s first post-apartheid treason trial, he began handing down sentence.

He is expected to sentence the 20 men, who were all found guilty of high treason, tomorrow.

The Boeremag’s “bomb squad” – Herman van Rooyen, Rudi Gouws and brothers Johan, Kobus and Wilhelm Pretorius – were in addition found guilty of culpable homicide and conspiring to murder former president Nelson Mandela.

A Soweto mother, Claudia Mokone, was killed when a piece of steel dislodged by a homemade bomb detonated on a railway line landed in her shack.

Plans to murder Mandela with a bomb while he was en route to open a school in Bolobedu were thwarted when he arrived by helicopter instead.

Jordaan said the political dispensation in South Africa had changed completely since 1994 and every citizen now had the right to vote, despite the colour of their skin.

The Constitution was the core document of the new order and the cornerstone of democracy, he said. The Bill of Rights protected political rights, the right to vote and minority rights, but not where it was to the detriment of the rights of others.

He said every citizen had the right to form a political party and promote a political agenda and could change the political dispensation in the country by voting out its leaders. This however had to happen within the framework of the Constitution, which presupposed a process of change through negotiation.

Jordaan said the accused had planned to overthrow the African National Congress government through methods that were unconstitutional and included violence and planned violence. Their plans seriously endangered peaceful co-existence and if they ever came to fruition would undoubtedly have led to a bloodbath.

Not everyone was satisfied with what was happening in South Africa, but if everyone turned to violence there would be chaos, which could not be tolerated by any society.

People who shared the extreme views of the accused should realise it was not worth it, he added.

The judge summed up the personal circumstances of each of the accused. They ranged from highly qualified academics and medical doctors to farmers and career soldiers.

Many of the Boeremag members had been in prison awaiting trial for over a decade. Two of the accused had died since the trial started and one was in a nursing home after suffering a series of strokes.

Most sketched a grim picture of losing everything they had, children growing up without their fathers and many marriages ending because of the stress of the trial.

Several of the accused gave political reasons for their actions, but Jordaan said this was not a mitigating factor and was in fact aggravating.

Sentencing proceedings continue.

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