ConCourt rules on Boeremag escape saga

2012-09-28 17:11
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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that the man convicted of harbouring Boeremag escapees should be sentenced again by a lower court.

"The court upheld the appeal against the sentence of five years’ imprisonment and remitted the matter to the trial court for it to impose an appropriate sentence."

Jaco Bogaards was originally sentenced to in effect three years in prison under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

His wife Bess was given a suspended sentence, but her conviction and sentence were later set aside on appeal.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) set aside Bogaards' sentence, but found him guilty of harbouring and concealing escaped prisoners.

It imposed the heavier sentence of five years in prison, under Section 115 (e) of the Correctional Services Act, which had been an alternate charge.

Bogaards believed it was against his fair trial rights not to tell him this might happen. The majority of Constitutional Court judges agreed with him.

Bogaards also sought to have his conviction set aside and challenged the validity of Herman van Rooyen and Rudolph Gouws' detention warrant.

The Constitutional Court however dismissed Bogaard's application to have his conviction set aside and found that the escapees were rightfully considered to be "prisoners" under the Correctional Services Act (CSA), and dismissed Bogaards' appeal.

The matter dates back to 2002.

Van Rooyen and Gouws formed part of a group of 22 who appeared in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on charges of murder, sabotage and terrorism in what became known as the "Boeremag trial".

The court convicted 20 of them of high treason.

Five of them, including Van Rooyen and Gouws, were also convicted of attempting to murder then president Nelson Mandela and of killing a Soweto woman, who died as a result of a bomb they planted.

One of the original 22 accused died several years ago.

Another has been released after pleading guilty to a charge of terrorism and being sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.

On 3 May 2006, Gouws and Van Rooyen disappeared during the court's lunch adjournment, and even Interpol was asked to help find them.

Police were aware that Bogaards knew them through a commando and searched his farm on 13 January.

They found a motorbike, and a tent containing clothes, food and sleeping bags hidden in a dry river bed. One policeman spoke to Van Rooyen, before he again disappeared.

The Bogaards couple was arrested on 20 January 2007. Van Rooyen and Gouws were arrested at a residential complex in Lyttelton, Centurion.

- SAPA
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