Kobus Pretorius

Pretoria - He cannot believe now that he was capable of planting bombs and planning a coup, Boeremag accused Kobus Pretorius told the High Court in Pretoria today.

Testifying in mitigation, Pretorius said he had been incredibly naive and gullible when he took part in the rightwing coup plot to overthrow the ANC government 10 years ago.

“I believed people easily. That's why I did not question many things or see things in the right light. It's sometimes difficult to believe that I had been the way I was, to do what I did.

“With the ability now to think critically about things and humanity I find it unbelievable that I could have been 1/8that 3/8 naive. I believed strange things then that I cannot fathom why today. But I take full responsibility for what I did. I'll take my punishment like a man, even if it hurts.

“I have remorse about the things I did. It was wrong not only against God but also against humanity. I am sorry I was ever involved in the deeds I committed. I will never be involved in anything like that again,” he said.

Pretorius told the court he no longer wished to be on the Boeremag's “register of the nation”, even if it meant being branded as “persona non grata”.

He asked the family of his victim Claudia Mokone, who was killed with a Boeremag bomb in Soweto in October 2002, for forgiveness.

“I want to tell the family who lost a mother that I am sorry about what I did and my role in it. I want to apologise to the persons who were injured in the Bronkhorstspruit bomb.

“To the thousands of people who were inconvenienced because they could not go to work, I am sorry about that.

“And I'm sorry about the negative impact it had on race relations in our country,” he said.

Pretorius' mother Minnie sat with her hands in her head on hearing her son, who has since broken off all contact with his family, apologise for what he did.

Sitting in the dock his father Dr Lets Pretorius and brothers Johan and Wilhelm also appeared taken aback.

Pretorius testified that his religious adviser in jail Sonja Jordaan and her husband had taught him what real love was.

He now regarded them as his new family and it was also Mr Jordaan who visited him in jail every week.

He also planned to stay with the Jordaans and to work for the Jordaan's aerial engineering company when he was released.

He said he had a lot of hope for the future and hoped to marry again and start a family as soon as he possibly could, because he wanted to make the best of the years he had left.

He assured the court he was a different man now and no longer shared the ideological, extreme political and religious beliefs instilled by his parents.

The trial continues. - Sapa