Pretoria - Maybe the final chapter in the Boeremag trial is yet to be written, after the presiding judge joked that he may consider writing a book on the subject once he retires in five years’ time.
But for now Pretoria High Court Judge Eben Jordaan has laid down his pen on this subject.
On Thursday he turned down an application for leave to appeal by five of the men, who are serving lengthy prison sentences.
This means an end to the more than decade-long trial and appeal applications, as none of the other 19 convicts have applied for leave to appeal.
The time frame in which to note a pending appeal lapsed by the end of last year.
The hopes of Dr Lets Pretorius, Mike and his brother Andre du Toit, Dion van der Heever and Tom Vorster were dashed as Judge Jordaan said no other court would on appeal come to a different finding than the one he’d arrived at.
Pretorius was the only one to complain about his conviction. He and the other four also appealed against their sentences that range from 10 to 25 years effectively.
Delivering judgment immediately after having listened to the arguments, the judge said this was probably “the last stage” in the trial that started in May 2003.
Turning down the applications, the judge said he had considered all the facts thoroughly before he convicted and sentenced the accused.
“I have listened to evidence for more than 10 years.
“The typed record of the case is more than 60 000 pages and with the annexure it runs into more than 100 000.
“My judgment runs into about 8 000 pages… I analysed the evidence of each witness as well as that of each accused.”
“I am of the opinion that no other court would come to a different finding than the one I made,” he told counsel.
None of the convicted men were in court on Thursday.
At the start of the proceedings, Piet Pistorius, acting for Pretorius, said the judge had erred in finding his client was part of the plan to stage a coup, let alone one of the ringleaders. He told the judge that Pretorius, although a learned man and a medical doctor, was in fact a very gullible person who believed others when they warned about the night of the long knives – when “the blacks were supposed to attack the whites”.
Pretorius believed and probably will believe up to his death, that God called on him to help the people involved in the Boeremag, he said.
Pretorius said his client was not involved in any of the planning of the coup. He was merely responsible for giving medial assistance when the “attack” occurred.
Pretorius was also harshly sentenced as he is a 67-year-old man, serving an effective 20-year jail term, he argued.
But Judge Jordaan said he thought long and hard to come to a fair sentence – for the accused and members of the community.
Harry Prinsloo, arguing for a lesser sentence for some of the other men, said they should not have been punished so harshly for their “absurd plan”.
“It was a crazy idea. A handful of people thought they could chase millions of black people into the sea… The horses will grow horns before something like that could ever happen.”
In concluding Thursday’s proceedings, Judge Jordaan asked advocate Paul Fick, leader of the prosecution team (who from Friday is hanging up his robe as he is going on pension), what his plans were.
Fick said he would travel and do some painting, but doubted he would write a book on the Boeremag.
The judge, in return, jokingly indicated he might do so one day.
He thanked the parties in the marathon trial, saying they had sometimes locked horns, but all of them worked well together.