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Pretoria - Two State witnesses in the Boeremag trial - a Delmas farmer said to have stored explosives in his barn on behalf of the Boeremag’s bomb squad and a man who was allegedly involved in the planning of the coup as he attended meetings - may face prosecution.
Johannes van Dyk, 72, and Frederick “Blackie” Swartz took the stand, as Section 204 witnesses, during the trial of the accused, of whom there were then 22. They had to be open with the court during their testimony, even if it meant they could implicate themselves.
Over the past decade, Pretoria High Court Judge Eben Jordaan heard evidence from 37 such witnesses. At the start of the evidence of each witness, he warned them to speak truthfully, failing which they could face prosecution relating to the Boeremag’s activities.
The judge granted indemnity on Thursday to 35 of these witnesses, but declined to do so for Van Dyk and Swartz, as in his opinion they had not been totally frank with the court.
Judge Jordaan said the court had to be totally satisfied with the evidence of a Section 204 witness before granting indemnity. “The witness has to answer all questions frankly and openly. It is not expected of them to remember everything, but if you become blatant, I’m sorry.”
The witnesses, bar two, had played open cards with the court, the judge said. Van Dyk had denied any knowledge of the explosives being stored in his barn, but this was clearly not true, he said.
In his opinion, Swartz had also not been frank when he testified about his part in renting cars from Avis to use in planting car bombs or about what exactly had happened at the coup planning meetings he attended.
Lawyer Chris Barnard, acting for Van Dyk and Swartz on Thursday, said the two had played open cards, but had been ambushed during the defence’s cross-examination. The judge remarked that “cross-examination is not for sissies”.
The leader of the prosecution team, advocate Paul Fick, said afterwards that the director of public prosecutions would decide whether the pair should be prosecuted.
* Judge Jordaan is to rule on Friday whether some of the Boeremag members convicted should forfeit their right to own firearms.