Boeremag treason trialist denied bail
Pretoria - A Boeremag treason trialist, who allegedly attempted to escape from the North Gauteng High Court last year, was refused bail on Friday.
Judge Peter Mabuse dismissed the application by Gerhardus "Oom Vis" Visagie, finding that it showed "utter disrespect" for the court.
The Boeremag (Boer Force) is a rightwing activist group accused of planning to overthrow the African National Congress government to reinstate a new Boer-administered republic.
Visagie was taken to hospital in May after collapsing in court the day after the alleged escape attempt.
The 73-year-old underwent heart bypass surgery and later said the facilities in jail were not conducive to his health.
Visagie denied the escape allegation, claiming that he was walking between the benches when he saw what appeared to be a fight between some of his co-accused and the police.
He said he was trying to settle the matter and was standing at the entrance to the court when someone pushed him from behind, causing him to fall onto the people fighting.
Police, however, said he had been part of the group of Boeremag accused who tried to flee.
Not in the interests of justice
In a statement, investigating officer Lieutenant Colonel Tollie Vreugdenburg said Visagie's family had actively assisted him to evade the police before his arrest and he had little confidence that Visagie would attend his trial if he was released on bail.
Mabuse found that there was a reasonable possibility that Visagie would decamp and frustrate the administration of justice.
He also held that correctional services had made reasonable and proper provision for Visagie's prescribed medical treatment and that there were sufficient exercise facilities in jail.
The court found that it was not in the interests of justice to release Visagie.
The Boeremag treason trial's oldest accused was on the run for several months before his arrest in January 2003 after an alleged attempt by the group to overthrow the government.
He was also denied bail in 2004.
Correctional services said the accused were held separately.
The State alleges that Visagie, who was the Boeremag's chaplain, not only had a common purpose with the group, but had participated in the attempt.
The trial was provisionally postponed to March 30.
The trial started more than eight years ago.
The 20 accused have all pleaded not guilty to 40 charges ranging from high treason to sabotage and murder.