A South African court on Friday convicted a second man of high treason in a white supremacist plot to kill former South African president Nelson Mandela and drive blacks out of the country in a trial that has spanned nearly a decade.
One day after “Boeremag” kingpin Mike du Toit was convicted of high treason, his brother, former policeman Andre du Toit, received the same verdict in a Pretoria court.
High Court Judge Eben Jordaan said there was no doubt that Andre du Toit had been part of the inner circle of the Boeremag organization, which had planned a ultraconservative right-wing coup in 2002 to overthrow the post-apartheid government.
Known as the Boeremag — Afrikaans for “Boer Force,” a reference to the descendants of the first Dutch settlers — the men are said to be behind nine bomb blasts that shook the Johannesburg township of Soweto in October 2002.
Dozens of people were injured and one person killed.
Prosecutors said Andre was at a meeting in January 2002 when he swore allegiance to the Boeremag and its cause, and was handed a bullet as symbol that “traitors” would be shot.
The plans entailed creating chaos in the country through a chain of events, whereafter military bases would be taken over, the government replaced with white military rule and all blacks and Indians chased out of the country.
The Du Toit brothers are among the 20 men in the trial, facing charges ranging from murder to terrorism and high treason. The verdict has been read since Monday and is likely to continue for weeks.
Part of their scheme involved an alleged plot to kill Mandela in 2002, one of the triggers they believed would spark an exodus of blacks out of South Africa and into neighboring countries.
Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, acted as a unifying force after decades of white minority rule.
Mike du Toit’s lawyer, Paul Kruger, said his client denies the charges that have been heard over nearly 10 years.
“Where politics are involved, there are always a lot of emotional issues at stake,” he said.
“That had indeed been the case, especially in this instance, right from the start when we brought the application that the court does not have jurisdiction because of the illegal way the ANC government got into power,” he added.
Kruger had argued that Mandela’s predecessor, former South African president F.W. de Klerk, had presided over an unconstitutional regime that paved the way for Mandela to lead the African National Congress to power in 1994 elections.
The High Court dismissed the argument.
Kruger said his client was now in an “anxious wait-and-see” period to hear the rest of the verdict and would later decide whether to appeal.