'Boeremag wanted to breed a new nation'

Published Aug 10, 2004


The Boeremag dreamed of using the huge Armscor building in Pretoria as a sort of breeding farm for "a new (Afrikaner) nation", the city's High Court heard on Tuesday.

Free State potato farmer Henk van Zyl testified in the trial of 22 alleged Boeremag members, facing charges ranging from high treason to terrorism and murder, about a conversation with alleged Boeremag leader Tom Vorster.

He said the Makopane herb farm owned by one of the accused, Dr Lets Pretorius, had at one stage been used as the headquarters to plan a violent coup. After one of their meetings at the farm, he and Vorster drove past Armscor's building in Pretoria.

Vorster said there were optical cables under the road that would have to be blown up.

He also said he wanted a building like the Armscor building to "keep a bunch of women, isolate them and inseminate them with (the sperm of) Boeremag members to start a new nation".

After the laughter died down in court, Van Zyl added deadpan: "I did not have many words."

He said he had told Vorster about his plan to blow up Afrikaans comedian Casper de Vries "because I believed he was not on the right path".

While passing Hillbrow, Vorster said it was a bad place and he and accused Herman van Rooyen had already identified targets there for bombing.

He testified that Vorster had given him R1000 to buy gas cylinders for the manufacture of 60 bombs. Van Zyl bought 16 cylinders at a scrap yard in Bethlehem for the purpose and explained in detail how he had manufactured the bombs. He also manufactured a rubbish bin full of metal spikes that could be thrown in the road.

In July 2002, a group of Boeremag members gathered at Pretorius's farm, where Vorster and Pretorius's son Kobus unsuccessfully tested home-made detonators for their bombs.

A short while later, there was a meeting in the mountains near Mokopane at which Vorster talked in detail about a plan called Operation Popeye, which would have served as a trigger to take over the country and chase all blacks into the sea or to neighbouring countries.

Vorster announced nine targets, which they planned to bomb in September 2002 as part of their coup plan. These included the National and Provincial Operational Coordinating Committee's offices, the Reserve Bank, Stock Exchange, Johannesburg International Airport and the Johannesburg station and taxi rank.

He also said parliament in Cape Town would be bombed early in the afternoon to draw the police's attention. The other bombs would explode two hours later, at the time the American stock exchange opened.

According to Vorster, the bombs would have caused the South African monetary system to collapse.

"He said there would be a new monetary system. There would not be a rand any more, but a veld," Van Zyl testified.

Ranks were also given to various Boeremag members this meeting, but Vorster was adamant there would no longer be generals in the new Boeremag army.

Vorster asked several of the accused to buy motorcycles, which he said would be used to escape after the bombings. Vorster said he wanted to take the National Operation Co-ordinating Committee's building as a target, because he "wanted to look the enemy in the eye".

He also gave orders that a courier company be formed and cars hired, into which three bombs each would be built. The cars were to be driven to the various targets.

Van Zyl said he had to build 20 bombs, and the accused Herman Van Rooyen and Kobus Pretorius 20 each.

After the bombings, the plan was to take over various defence force bases.

"Vorster said white people who did not want to take part in the defence force could be used to clean up the country and break down the squatter camps. Oom Vis Visagie (Boeremag chaplain) said we would hit them with a curse.

"He said we would take nothing from them (the blacks), but would burn their vehicles N we would take them to Iscor and melt them down," Van Zyl said.

He said the coup plan included drawing up a register of all who wanted to live in the new Boeremag state, who would be forced to register their names.

After this meeting Van Zyl realised things were heating up and the police were on their heels.

He buried the cylinders and road spikes he had made and went on the run from police together with Tom Vorster and his second-in-command Dirk Hanekom. He and Vorster also changed their appearances.

Police raided his farm shortly thereafter, but by that time Van Zyl was long gone.

In this period, Vorster gave instructions to a certain Oom Jan Vermeulen (one of the accused's father) and accused Frits Naude to steal ammunition from a depot near Bethlehem. He also told accused Johan Pretorius to send a fax to the police pretending that an Indian group was going to attack the World Summit meeting.

This, Vorster said, was to get the police's attention centred on the World Summit, which would open the way for their attack on the country.

Hanekom later told them about a place near Lichtenburg where he said "the nation" would gather after the coup and where Vorster would address them.

The trial continues. - Sapa

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