Zimbabwe situation may have spurred terror accused – NPA

2011-02-14 14:51

South African terror accused Brian Patrick Roach might have been motivated by his concern for Zimbabwean farmers, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said today.

“He may have conceived the plot because of the situation in Zimbabwe. He thought the United Kingdom and United States were not doing enough,” said NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.

Roach appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court in Alexandra today. He would be charged with threatening to engage in terrorist activity (alternatively fraud and extortion) and money laundering, Mhaga said.

According to the charge sheet, Roach wanted to secure compensation for the losses incurred by the farming community of Zimbabwe as a result of the settlement brokered by the UK and the US governments.

It noted that this was coupled with the former South African government’s failure to act against Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, who Roach referred to as “the tyrant from hell”.

The 64-year-old engineer was arrested in Hartbeespoort, North West, on Saturday.
He allegedly “repeatedly, through letters and e-mails, demanded an amount of $4 million (R29 million) in exchange for not deploying a biological agent within the borders of the UK,” according to a police statement.

Mhaga said he allegedly threatened to cause outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in the e-mails, sent from internet cafes, and letters posted from Johannesburg and Pretoria to UK authorities.

However, when the police searched his home, they found no evidence that he was capable of carrying out his threats.

Magistrate Renier Boshoff postponed the case against Roach until February 18 for a bail application.

State advocate Chris McAdams said an identity parade also had to be held.

Mhaga said Roach could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

“We are taking it as a very serious threat because it is international,” he said.

Mhaga said this was the first threat of its kind because of the manner in which it was done, but it was not the first time the Terrorism Act had been contravened.

The NPA planned to opposed bail on Friday, he said.

Roach would be kept at the Bramley police station holding cells to allow for better co-ordination during the identity parade, said defence attorney Rod Montano. He said this was more practical.

Montano said Roach was retired, had four adult children and lived in Hartbeespoort.

Roach’s arrest on Saturday followed an intensive six-month investigation by South African and British police, and the United States FBI.

“This biological agent, if deployed, would have caused the destruction of property and resulted in major economic loss,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Saturday.

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