Boeremag witnesses refused indemnity

2013-10-31 20:10
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - Two Boeremag accomplices, who testified for the State in the long-running treason trial, have been refused indemnity from prosecution by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Judge Eben Jordaan on Tuesday imposed sentences ranging from five to 48 years imprisonment on 19 Boeremag members convicted of high treason.

The charge stems from a rightwing plot in the early 2000s to violently overthrow the ANC government.

Almost 160 witnesses testified for the State during the course of the trial, including several accomplices, who became State witnesses after their arrest in exchange for possible indemnity from prosecution in terms of section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Granting full indemnity to most of the witnesses, Jordaan said he was satisfied that all except two had answered questions openly and honestly.

He said section 204 had a specific aim and the whole process would be thwarted if those who did not keep to the rules were treated too lightly.

"A 204 witness must know that if he's going to talk nonsense in court there will be trouble," Jordaan said.

He refused indemnity to Blackie Swartz, who was involved in hiring cars destined for five massive car bombs which the Boeremag planned to detonate in the city centres of Pretoria and Johannesburg on 13 December 2002.

Jordaan said he had watered down his version of events under cross-examination. This had not been a question of bad memory but of dishonesty.

Jordaan also refused indemnity to 72-year-old Delmas farmer Johannes van Dyk snr, who told the court he knew nothing about the Boeremag explosives once stored on his farm.

His son Johannes van Dyk jnr, who in contrast admitted storing the explosives, was granted indemnity.

Bomb squad

The Boeremag "bomb squad" took the explosives to the Van Dyk farm after a neighbour refused to open his gate for them.

Jordaan, however, added he would be surprised if the State tried to get Swartz or Van Dyk snr back into court, but that was not the test for granting indemnity.

Among the witnesses who received indemnity was self-confessed bomb planter Deon Crous, who was on his way to Pretoria with Herman van Rooyen with a car bomb destined for Marabastad when they were arrested in 2002.

Crous testified that he had assisted Boeremag members Kobus Pretorius and Jacques Jordaan to manufacture large quantities of explosives, which would have been divided into five car bombs.

He told the court he and the Boeremag's bomb squad had decided to assassinate former president Nelson Mandela with a home-made landmine after reading in a newspaper that he would open a school near Tzaneen in Limpopo.

The bomb was placed in the road and would have been set off when they saw Mandela's car, but their plan was abandoned when he arrived by helicopter instead.

Free State farmer Henk van Zyl and wealthy Thabazimbi farmer Lourens du Plessis were also granted indemnity.

Van Zyl admitted manufacturing cylinder bombs for the Boeremag while Du Plessis admitted giving money for the Boeremag to buy equipment to print fake money.

Medical doctor Dr Lets Pretorius, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, will apply for bail on Friday pending an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Read more on:    boeremag  |  anc  |  nelson mandela

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