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Pretoria - He would have to consult the wisdom of Solomon in considering sentences for the accused, the judge presiding over the Boeremag trial at the Pretoria High Court remarked on Monday as the defence began its arguments in mitigation of sentence.
The marathon trial, which has lasted more than a decade, is reaching its end, with the lawyers for the 20 accused to argue over the next few weeks for lesser sentences.
The accused have been convicted of charges that range from high treason, terrorism, murder, and attempted murder to charges under the explosives and ammunition acts. Some were convicted of most of the charges, while others have to face the music on only one or two.
First in line on Monday was Mike du Toit, 54, accused No 1.
This academic and philosopher was convicted of treason as he was part of the plan to overthrow the new government.
His advocate, Harry Prinsloo, told the court his client wasn’t a fighter, but an academic who for most of his life had been a lecturer.
Du Toit had been behind bars for 11 years and five months since his arrest, which the court had to take into consideration in sentencing him, Prinsloo said.
Judge Eben Jordaan said that the time spent in jail would definitely be a factor he would take into consideration in sentencing the men.
“There will definitely be cases where there will be a wholly suspended sentence or a partially suspended sentence handed down.
“I just have not yet decided on what the conditions of suspension should be.”
The judge called on the defence counsels to address him later in this regard. Prinsloo said his client had no previous convictions and was not a criminal.
“The crime was politically motivated. Farm murders were escalating and women and children were being murdered. These killings were and still are particularly gruesome and the government is not able to protect the farmers,” said Prinsloo.
He said that Du Toit, like others, had also become frustrated with affirmative action and the government’s inadequacy in dealing with service delivery problems.
Prinsloo said Du Toit was younger at the time and felt that the government was not listening to the minority.
He argued that Du Toit had not been directly involved in any violence. He was involved only in the planning stages of the organisation.
“It was mostly only talk.”
Prinsloo said there were others who had been more actively involved in the Boeremag, but who had not been charged. “The Indians are being punished, while the chiefs are still walking free.”
Prinsloo said it was also clear that the accused had splintered during the trial and that there were factions.
He said Du Toit had lost everything and was due to divorce his second wife. His child had been barely five months old when he was arrested. She was now 12 and he had hardly seen her.
The argument presented by lawyer Johan van Wyk regarding accused No 3, Rooikoos du Plessis, 54, who was also convicted of treason, was in a similar vein.
Van Wyk had asked for permission to deliver his argument after Prinsloo, saying he would not be available later.
He agreed that treason was a serious charge, but said Du Plessis had not been involved in any terror activities.
He had been involved in the planning of the Boeremag, but later wanted to break away.
When he heard the police were looking for him, he handed himself over.
Du Plessis was in custody for eight years and seven months before he was released on bail in 2010.
The hearing resumes on Wednesday.