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Pretoria - The Boeremag treason accused had planned a coup for “selfish political reasons” and wanted to impose their views on South Africa's population through violence, the State argued in their trial on Friday.
The State on Friday concluded legal argument in the marathon trial. It is expected that Judge Eben Jordaan will sentence the 20
accused in the country's first post-apartheid treason trial within the next few months.
Senior prosecutor Paul Fick argued that the Boeremag, a right-wing organisation, had not been planning a bloodless coup, but a violent takeover which would have involved annihilating or driving millions of people out of the country.
He asked the court to sentence the Boeremag bomb squad and three of its leaders to life imprisonment for their crimes.
Herman van Rooyen, Rudi Gouws and brothers Johan, Kobus and Wilhelm Pretorius had acted as the Boeremag bomb squad, blowing up numerous targets and attempting to kill former president Nelson Mandela with a home-made bomb.
The State wants them, the Pretorius family patriarch Dr Lets Pretorius and Boeremag leaders Tom Vorster and Dirk Hanekom to spend at least the next 25 years of their lives behind bars.
Fick argued that the rest of the accused should be sent to prison for periods ranging from five to 15 years imprisonment.
Many of the accused had already spent over a decade in prison, but Jordaan found they were solely responsible for dragging out the trial.
During their legal argument counsel for the accused warned the court not to make “political martyrs” of them by imposing overly harsh sentences.
This was not one of the more severe cases of high treason, as the blueprint for the coup was a weak plan that only confirmed the group's lack of sophistication and stupidity.
Fick, however, said the fact that the Constitutional Court was not prepared to declare the death penalty for high treason in times of war unconstitutional demonstrated in what a serious light the crime was regarded.
“It's not about taking over power alone either, but about overthrowing the whole democratic dispensation and Constitution and establishing a new dispensation which would exclude all people of different races and different views.
“The purpose was violently moving back to a position far worse than the so-called apartheid era. It would not merely have concerned deposing those in power, but slaughtering all members of the (ANC) government.
“The violence that was planned included attacks on defence force bases. It included the deliberate 'annihilation' 1/8slaughter 3/8 of thousands of defence force and police members,” he said.
Although timeous action by the police had stopped the planned violence, millions of rands worth of damage had nevertheless been caused to the state's infrastructure. Railway lines, a bridge, airport and police vehicles were damaged.
Damage was also caused to private properties such as a Buddhist temple, a mosque, a holiday resort, and offices.
One woman was killed and two seriously injured in bomb blasts.
“Even this court would not have functioned because the court building would have been damaged by a car bomb. Furthermore the only 'courts' the accused would have recognised were war councils,” Fick said.