Boeremag chaplain found guilty

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IOL News si Boeremag8362 Pic aug 13 INLSA Members of the Boeremag Dirk Hannekom, Dr Johan Pretorius, Wilhelm Pretorius, Rudi Gouws and Tom Voster in the dock. File photo: Masi Losi.

Pretoria -Boeremag chaplain Gerhardus Visagie has been convicted of high treason in the High Court in Pretoria, bringing to 14 the number of convicted members of the organisation.

Visagie, 73, was not in court as he was recuperating from a back operation last month. He also underwent heart bypass surgery last year after collapsing in court following an attempted escape by some of the accused.

Visagie consented to judgment continuing in his absence, his lawyer said.

Judge Eben Jordaan found Visagie participated in planning a violent right-wing coup. He had been regarded as part of the Boeremag's inner circle. He had attended numerous meetings at which the coup was discussed, and presided when new Boeremag members were sworn in with their hands on the Bible.

New members were also handed a bullet as a symbol that traitors would be shot.

Jordaan rejected Visagie's evidence that he had not been aware of people being sworn in.

Witnesses testified that Visagie had proclaimed that traitors who did not want to join their cause should be cursed. He even claimed responsibility for causing several people to be declared medically unfit by cursing them.

Visagie was present when a series of “blue letters” declaring war on the ANC-led government were composed.

He knew Boeremag leader Mike du Toit, his brother Andre, and Rooikoos du Plessis had been arrested and faced charges of high treason. This did not stop him from further participation in the plot, the court heard.

As the Boeremag's chaplain, Visagie had been involved in re-writing the historic Blood River Oath.

He had told one witness the “purification of the nation” referred to an oath, and that people such as former president FW de Klerk had to be wiped out.

Visagie was present when targets such as the Union Buildings, magistrate's courts and the SA Reserve Bank were identified in Pretoria, and knew a series of car bombs was being planned.

The court accepted the evidence of several witnesses that Visagie had told them the Boeremag planned to use violence to take over the country.

He had invited people to a farm in Warmbaths from where a group of Boeremag members left on September 13, 2002, to commit a series of terrorist acts.

After the plan was abandoned and the group splintered, Visagie went on the run from the police and was arrested five months later.

Only eight of the 20 accused attended the judgment on Tuesday. The majority were excused, reportedly because of ill health.

Judgment continues. - Sapa



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