Intelligence ‘had Boeremag taped’
Pretoria - The Boeremag was lured into a trap by informants working for the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit, who planted evidence and enticed the members to move from their initial defence strategy, into a militant organisation.
Crime Intelligence was in fact from the start behind this organisation and pushed its informants to infiltrate the Boeremag - dubbed by the SAPS as “Project Wacko”.
This was the evidence of a former captain in a covert section of the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit, Deon Loots. He was the handler of the State’s key witness, JC Smit, who infiltrated the Boeremag in the 1990s. In 2003, Smith was the first witness to take the stand in the Pretoria High Court treason trial in which the 21 accused have been convicted of an array of charges, some including high treason.
Loots, in his shocking evidence yesterday, told Judge Eben Jordaan that he “had to get these things off his chest” as he made a promise to himself that once this trial was ending, he would come and tell the truth. “I want the whole world to know what the truth is,” he said.
Apart from testifying at length how the organisation was “coaxed”, without the knowledge of the members, to take a more aggressive stance, he said Crime intelligence instructed Smit to teach some of the Boeremag members how to build bombs.
Crime intelligence knew about every move each of the accused made - whether in C-Max Prison awaiting trial, in court and even while speaking to their lawyers regarding their defence. There were bugs and even surveillance cameras everywhere. The homes and phones of their friends and families were also bugged, he said.
According to Loots this unit had such sophisticated equipment that at its headquarters there is a room dubbed “the war room” where the movements of the accused in jail could be seen at any time of the day on two big screens.
Furthermore, police attached to this unit can watch live footage on their cellphones of what is going on in court and this footage is also seen on their laptops, Loots said.
While his evidence cannot be used to the advantage of the case of the accused at this stage, as they have all been convicted, the aim of it is to convince the judge to note a special entry on the court record of an irregularity. This could eventually be used by the accused in their appeal one day to have their treason and other convictions overthrown.
Loots was medically boarded from the SAPS in 2001, but he still partially managed Smit as an informant. His (Loots’s) wife is a colonel in crime intelligence and closely linked to the Boeremag trial. They are now in the middle of an acrimonious divorce.
Loots said in 1997 several rightwingers held meetings, which were aimed at putting a plan in place for the commandos to step in if unrest broke out in the country. The initial aim was to stabilise the country and to restore peace.
Smit infiltrated these meetings on the instructions of crime intelligence. Loots said this unit decided to be in “total control” of these meetings and at a meeting of high ranking SAPS officials, it was decided to feed these people with disinformation.
Crime intelligence wanted to create the atmosphere that there was a threat in the country and the informants, especially Smit, had to feed the right-wing people this information at meetings. This had to be done at a steady pace, Loots said, so that they didn’t become suspicious.
He said he was terribly upset when crime intelligence instructed Smit to train some of these people in the manufacturing of bombs, which Smit in fact did. “I said this was wrong.”
He said although he was no longer in the SAPS by then, he knew exactly what went on in the Boeremag trial, as his wife told him. According to him she, shortly after the group’s arrest, told him their police cells were bugged and the SAPS knewwhat their defence strategies would be. This was also conveyed to the State, who at all times knew how to counter the defence.
“I told my wife this was unethical and asked her why this was done. She said this was so that crime intelligence at all times knew what the accusedwere planning.”