Final Boeremag accused convicted

2012-08-20 15:35
Some of the Boeremag accused at the North Gauteng High Court. (Beeld)

Some of the Boeremag accused at the North Gauteng High Court. (Beeld)

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Pretoria - The final Boeremag accused, bomb-maker Kobus Pretorius, was convicted of high treason by the North Gauteng High Court on Monday.

Judge Eben Jordaan, who began handing down judgment on 23 July, had now found all 20 accused guilty of high treason.

The charges stem from a coup plot to overthrow the ANC government.

Kobus Pretorius, his brothers Johan and Wilhelm, Herman van Rooyen, Rudi Gouws and State witness Deon Crous formed the Boeremag's bomb squad after the first coup plotters were arrested.

The group had plotted to murder then president Nelson Mandela with a homemade bomb in October 2002.

Applied to be declared prisoners of war

They were responsible for a series of explosions in Soweto, at Grand Central Airport, and at a bridge in Port Edward. They also tried to blow up a Buddhist temple in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.

Claudia Mokone died when a piece of steel dislodged by the bombing of a railway line in Soweto landed in her shack.

Pretorius and his brothers had unsuccessfully applied to be declared prisoners of war. They claimed they were freedom fighters involved in a legitimate war against the ANC government, aimed at establishing an independent Boer republic.

Kobus Pretorius was the Boeremag's master bomb-maker. He had played a leading role in the manufacture of explosives both before and after the Boeremag's so-called D-day, on 13 September 2002.

The group had planned a bombing campaign aimed at overthrowing the government that day, but abandoned their plan when the police got wind of the plot.

Pretorius and the others regrouped, "declared war" on the ANC government and carried on with their bombing campaign until they were arrested in December 2002.

‘Traitors to cause must be killed’

At that stage, plans were already in place for massive car bombs in the Pretoria city centre and at unknown targets in Johannesburg.

According to the evidence, Pretorius had often stopped his brothers and Van Rooyen when they wanted to do "irresponsible things". These included plans to shoot people while hijacking vehicles, and blowing up trains.

Several witnesses testified that Pretorius had openly declared that traitors to their cause should be killed.

He had told Crous his car bombs would be more powerful than the October 2002 bombs in Bali, Indonesia, in which 202 people were killed and hundreds injured. Jordaan said Pretorius had manufactured explosives and timers and assembled bombs.

Pretorius: I am sorry

He was directly involved in planting bombs in Soweto, including the one in which Mokone was killed, and had directed the others where to plant bombs and how to set them off. He had committed serious acts of violence while trying to overthrow the government.

Pretorius on Sunday issued a statement through his psychologist Sonja Jordaan in which he asked forgiveness for his deeds. He earlier broke off all ties with his family, saying he had been raised in a politically and religiously fanatical home and wanted nothing more to do with them.

Pretorius said in a statement what he had done as a member of the Boeremag was wrong.

"I want to ask the forgiveness of every person who was prejudiced and suffered loss because of my conduct. I am sorry," he said.

Pardoned right-wing mass killer Barend "Wit Wolf" Strydom on Monday called for an investigation into the role of police agents and informants in the case.

Right-winger Manie Maritz, whose grandfather Gerrit Maritz was one of the leaders in the Great Trek, said he believed the way in which the accused had fought for the "freedom of the Boer nation" was "beautiful".

On Tuesday Judge Jordaan would determine a date for sentencing proceedings.

- SAPA

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