Police: Boeremag plotting jail break
Pretoria - The accused in the Boeremag treason trial should remain in chains because they are planning another escape, police told the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday.
Five of the incarcerated Boeremag accused staged a violent escape attempt at the court during a tea break in May.
They used a mixture of red pepper, ammonia and thinners smuggled into court in nose spray and tooth paste containers.
One of them tried to disarm a policeman in court and another managed to make it to Church Square, where he was caught with the help of a car guard.
No more privileges
Since then all of the accused have had to appear in court in leg irons.
Privileges, such as contact visits with their families, receiving food parcels at court on Fridays and being able to consult with their lawyers in court, have all been withdrawn.
Where their cells were previously only locked at 22:00, they are now confined to their cells for 19 hours a day.
Six of the accused - brothers Johan, Wilhelm and Kobus, Adriaan van Wyk, Dirk Hanekom and Andre du Toit - applied for an urgent court order on Thursday to have their leg irons removed when they are in court and to have their privileges restored.
Their advocate, Chris de Jager SC, argued that six had not taken part in the escape attempts and that Hanekom had in fact been lying ill in a court cell downstairs during the escape bid.
He said the six were being punished for something they did not do on speculation that they might still do it.
Defence: Violation of rights
De Jager argued that the leg irons were a serious violation of the accused's constitutionally entrenched right to human dignity.
His clients' rights were removed forthwith without even consultation with them or their legal representatives or giving them a chance to object.
According to De Jager, the leg irons had little effect because five of the other accused tried to escape despite the leg irons and the presence of about 20 police officers in and outside the court.
Jaco Roux, for the police, argued that the leg irons were justified and necessary under the circumstances.
He said the escape had been violent and the police were still investigating who were involved.
Accused in local Pretoria prison
He submitted that there were several intelligence reports indicating that another escape had already been planned or was being planned and the six accused could not be excluded from these plans.
Police had a duty to take all precautions necessary to prevent another escape, he said.
Counsel for Correctional Services said the accused had been moved to Pretoria local prison because of renovations at C-Max.
They would have to wait until the renovations had been completed in 2012 before they could get their privileges back.
He said the facilities at the local prison did not allow for their cells to remain open until 22:00 at night and it would also be bad for discipline in the prison to allow them such a privilege.
Judge Roger Claassen reserved judgment.