Boeremag accused loses bail bid

2012-07-16 19:50
Mnr. Cobus Pretorius in 2003 tydens 'n hofverskyning van die Boeremaglede. FOTO: Christiaan Kotze

Mnr. Cobus Pretorius in 2003 tydens 'n hofverskyning van die Boeremaglede. FOTO: Christiaan Kotze

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Pretoria - The Boeremag's 73-year-old chaplain lost his third attempt to secure bail in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Judge Niel Tuchten dismissed the bail application of Gerhardus "Oom Vis" Visagie on the grounds that he had tried to escape before and might abscond.

Visagie is one of 20 accused facing 40 charges ranging from high treason to sabotage and murder.

The charges arise from an alleged right-wing plot to violently overthrow the African National Congress government.

Judge Eben Jordaan will hand down judgment in the trial - one of South Africa's lengthiest - next Monday.

It is anticipated that he could take up to three weeks to deliver an abridged version of the judgment.

Visagie underwent heart bypass surgery, following an escape attempt by five of the treason trial accused at the North Gauteng High Court in May last year.

He applied for bail for a third time before undergoing spinal surgery this week.

Judge Tuchten ruled that Visagie would not have to remain in leg irons, handcuffs and a belly-chain while recuperating from surgery if his surgeon advised against it.

He would remain under police guard while in hospital at a step-down facility for the next few months.

His guards would be entitled to remain in the ward with him.

Visagie denied trying to escape and insisted he had sworn off violence, but Tuchten found that he had probably been part of the escape attempt.

Money

It counted heavily against him that he had handed in R1 830 after the escape, which he did not have with him that morning before going to court.

"... The Boeremag is or was a military organisation... with leaders... and followers equivalent to foot soldiers.

"The chaplain in such [an] army or organisation is one of its leaders. One of the defences raised by some of the accused [but not the applicant] at the trial was that they were soldiers, entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions," said Tuchten.

"It cannot be disputed that prisoners of war have a duty to try to escape and continue their armed struggle against their perceived enemy.

"I was told that the stated aim of the Boeremag was to detach from the democratic state the territories which formerly constituted the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek, the Republic of the Orange Free State and the Republic of Vryheid.

"... I shall assume... that in matters of personal integrity, the appellant is a man of high moral standards, but the present is a case in which the applicant's proper notions of personal integrity might very well yield to the exigencies of the cause he espoused," Tuchten said.

He said movements which, like the Boeremag, sought through violence the destruction of the order they opposed, did not restrict their campaigns to the field of physical battle.

Media

They tried to enlist the media by engaging in conduct which they perceived would reflect well on them and provide dramatic news material.

"Supporters of the Boeremag might well be eager to hide the applicant and to try to persuade him to transmit recorded messages of encouragement for the movement's fighters and of castigation of the perceived enemy," said Tuchten.

"That a man such as the applicant was perceived to be holding the forces of the democratic state at bay or that such a man was recaptured, with all the attendant publicity, might well be perceived by the Boeremag... as likely to generate sympathy... for their movement and their goals," he said.

Tuchten said it was unlikely to have been a coincidence that the escape attempt was made on the date when the previous Republic of South Africa was proclaimed.

- SAPA
Read more on:    boeremag  |  treason
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