Pretoria - Leader of the right-wing Boeremag organisation, Mike du Toit, was convicted of treason by the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
Judge Eben Jordaan said all the evidence presented by the State fit together like a puzzle.
Du Toit, a former teacher and history lecturer at the Vista University with a master's degree in philosophy, was one of the first of the 22 treason trial accused to be arrested in 2002.
“We cannot believe that each of the State witnesses, as Du Toit and the other accused would have it, had fabricated their evidence for one or other obscure reason,” Jordaan said.
“We can come to no other conclusion but that accused number one (Du Toit) was a main role player in planning to overthrow the existing government.”
The National Prosecuting Authority welcomed the conviction.
“This is encouraging and (a) clear boost to the fight against any efforts to undermine state security,” spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.
“We are confident of securing convictions even in respect of the rest of the accused.”
Jordaan said the evidence showed Du Toit was the author of a “war plan”, known as Document 12, found on his computer after police raided his house in October 2001.
The plan entailed creating chaos in the country, taking over military bases and cities, chasing blacks and Indians out of the country, and replacing the African National Congress-led government with white Afrikaner military rule.
Du Toit had often discussed creating a “trigger” for the coup and chasing blacks into the sea.
Ideas for the “trigger” included blowing up the Vaal dam, shooting down a Boeing, creating a “World Trade Centre situation”, cutting off electricity to major cities, and the death of former president Nelson Mandela.
Jordaan found Du Toit had continued with his coup plan even after police raided his house and discovered Document 12.
He told witnesses he would not allow his plan, on which he had been working for seven years, to be derailed.
State witness, Colonel Koos Holtzhausen, who managed to infiltrate the organisation, said Du Toit had assured him the organisation had “massive support” and that his plan was “100 percent workable”.
He told Holtzhausen they were recruiting members under the guise of farm security.
Another State witness, Willem Grobler, testified that Du Toit had been livid after the raid on his house and vowed to create the trigger preceding the coup within days.
He said Du Toit would call up 450 men from the Eastern Transvaal (Mpumalanga) to come to Pretoria and shoot blacks indiscriminately to create chaos.
Du Toit told one witness he was definitely continuing with his plan and that so many “kaffirs would die that it would not even be funny”, Grobler said.
Grobler said he was so concerned about Du Toit's plans he tried to delay it by telling him about a meeting with a man who claimed he could manufacture a “weapon of mass destruction” in the form of gas which could kill hundreds of people.
He said Du Toit was very interested in this.
Several State witnesses, who were part of the organisation up to then, testified they became wary and withdrew from the plans because they realised they were busy breaking the law.
Jordaan accepted evidence that Du Toit had been present at a meeting at a strip club early in November 2001, during which a military radio, time switches and batteries were provided to a State witness to blow up power lines.
Du Toit said at that meeting he could get a missile to blow up a Boeing in the Cape, and discussed testing explosives.
At a later meeting, Du Toit vowed revenge against the police who he claimed had planted software, and child pornography, on his computer.
Jordaan found that another accused, Tom Vorster, had taken over from Du Toit as leader of the Boeremag early in 2002.
Du Toit was present when Vorster handed out war booklets, appointed commanders and discussed a series of bomb explosions to act as a trigger for the coup.
Members had to swear allegiance to the Boeremag, were handed a bullet, and warned that traitors would be shot.
Vorster made it clear at that meeting that the Boeremag had declared war on the government.
Judgment continues. - Sapa