15/08/2012.Boeremag accused Herman van Rooyen stands on the dock after he was convicted of high treason by the Pretoria High Court. Picture: Masi Losi

Sapa

Boeremag bomber Herman van Rooyen became the 15th man to be convicted of high treason by the Pretoria High Court yesterday. Van Rooyen, a farmer in Bela Bela, was the Boeremag’s military commander in Limpopo and headed a bombing campaign late in 2002 aimed at causing a racial war in SA.

He was part of a group of accused who tried to kill Nelson Mandela with a bomb near Bolobedu in Limpopo in October 2009.

The bomb had been planted along the route which they hoped Mandela would travel on his way to open a school. He arrived in a helicopter instead.

Van Rooyen participated in planting bombs at the police’s air wing at Grand Central Airport in Midrand, a bridge in Port Edward and a railway line in Soweto. Under his leadership, several bombs were triggered at the same time in Soweto on the night of October 29, 2002. Claudia Mamatsieng Mokone was killed when a piece of steel was flung into her shack by the railway line blast.

According to witnesses, Van Rooyen and his group had been satisfied with their bombing campaign in Soweto, and laughed when they saw on television that a woman had been killed.

He had also been one of the leaders during the Boeremag’s failed D-Day plan in September 2002, where a group of men were on their way to start a bombing campaign to overthrow the ANC government.

Judge Eben Jordaan said the arrest of some of the Boeremag members had not stopped Van Rooyen, who refined his coup plan and continued with it.

He had undertaken reconnaissance work to identify targets for the bombings, including a taxi rank and a mosque on the Potchefstroom road. At one stage, he was involved in plans to free fellow Boeremag members from prison and to kill policemen and prosecutors involved in the investigation of the Boeremag. Plans to kill the investigating officer in the Boeremag case, Superintendent Tollie Vreugdenburg, were apparently canned because he was popular, had solved many farm murders and “had a very pretty daughter”.

Van Rooyen had given instructions for the large-scale manufacture of fertiliser, shrapnel and car bombs, which he said “would have the same effect as the Bali bomb” (in Indonesia in 2002).

According to the evidence, he was unconcerned that people could be killed. He told witnesses his group of whites were God’s chosen nation and said they wanted to chase blacks out of the country.

He had also shown a witness a sketch of his plan for revolution. He said bombings in Soweto would cause black people to start attacking whites and to turn against the ANC.

He and State witness Deon Crous were on their way to Pretoria with a large car bomb destined for Marabastad when they were arrested in 2002.

Van Rooyen and fellow accused Rudi Gouws were on the run for months after escaping from court cells in 2006. They were part of a group that staged a failed escape attempt at the court last year.

Judgment continues.