Boeremag bid to scrap convictions hits snag

2013-02-06 20:09
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Pretoria - An application to pave the way for a bid to have the Boeremag treason convictions set aside hit a snag in the North Gautneg High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The prosecution objected to the defence presenting hearsay evidence.

After hours of consultation, retired Crime Intelligence officer Deon Loots took the stand just before lunch, but Judge Eben Jordaan shortly thereafter postponed matters to Thursday.

This was so that counsel for the accused and the State could sort out which part of Loots' evidence would be placed in dispute.

Prosecutor Dries van Rensburg said Loots' statement was riddled with hearsay and double hearsay evidence, and that the State would object to its admissibility.

He said the defence should consider recalling some State witnesses to confront them with Loots's allegations.

Loots was called as a witness in an application by the accused in terms of Section 317 of the Criminal Procedures Act, for a special entry on the court record of an irregularity.

If such an irregularity is found, on appeal, to have materially prejudiced them, their convictions could be set aside.

The application will not prevent the trial from proceeding and the accused will still have to present their case in mitigation of sentence.

Agent provocateur

Jurg Prinsloo SC, for the accused, said the trial was the first high treason trial under the ANC government, it had a high media profile and was of the utmost importance for the new constitutional dispensation under which the rule of law was recognised.

He said it was general knowledge that police informers had been used in the case.

The fact that one of these informers, JC Smit, had testified against the accused should weigh heavily in the decision about whether the evidence of the people who gave Smit his instructions was admissible, he said.

Loots joined the police in 1979 and was transferred to an undercover crime intelligence unit in 1997, when he was tasked with identifying and recruiting new informers.

He testified that he had convinced Smit to work with the police as an informer.

Loots said he was not aware of Smit working for any other intelligence agencies. At that stage, Smit worked for Iscor.

Loots was also aware of his involvement with the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging's guerrilla unit, known as the Ystergarde (Iron Guard), and a series of bomb explosions.

According to Loots, Smit was appointed to work within the rightwing as an informer and an "agent provocateur" (someone employed to gain people's trust then tempt them to do something illegal so that they can be arrested and punished).

Loots testified that he came from a family with strong ties to the police.

His late father was a police colonel, his older sister was also in the police and was married to a high ranking police officer, and his younger sister and wife had high ranks within the police force.

The 51-year-old Loots retired from the police on medical pension in October 2001.

The trial continues.

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