Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
26 Sep 2016
4:07 pm

Boeremag two lose bid to appeal

Ilse de Lange

The brothers claimed they never had a fair trial and should have been classified as prisoners of war before the start of the trial.

FILE PICTURE: Mike du Toit and Johan and Wilhelm Pretorius in the dock of the North Gauteng High Court on 28 October 2013 on the first day of their sentencing. They and their co-accused are guilty of high treason. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Two of the Boeremag members who in 2013 were sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for treason, culpable homicide and conspiring to murder former president Nelson Mandela have lost their bid to appeal against their convictions and sentences.

Judge Eben Jordaan yesterday dismissed the application of Dr Johan Pretorius and his brother Wilhelm for leave to appeal against their convictions and their sentences, saying there was no chance another court would come to a different conclusion.

The brothers, who represented themselves, indicated they now intended to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for leave to appeal.

They claimed they never had a fair trial and should have been classified as prisoners of war before the start of the trial, which took more than a decade to complete.

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They also claimed their sentences were “inhumanly long” in light of the fact that they had been in prison for 11 years while awaiting trial and described the alleged “repeated assaults” and conditions they had to endure in prison as “inhuman”.

Judge Eben Jordaan said the trial had been the longest in South Africa’s history and had been marked by numerous applications and repeated complaints by the accused about the conditions under which they were incarcerated, which added to the delays.

Both accused had initially denied any knowledge about the case and cross-examined state witnesses “ad nauseam” before they made statements in which they claimed they were soldiers involved in a legitimate war.

The judge reiterated his ruling during the trial that the accused were not entitled to prisoner-of-war status.

He said the Geneva Convention’s protocol had no bearing on the case whatsoever, and no other court would come to a different conclusion, as the accused had not been involved in an uprising against “a racist regime” as they claimed, and the targets they had chosen were definitely not military targets.

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A civilian was killed by a homemade bomb planted on a railway line, and the group actively planned to kill President Nelson Mandela with a homemade landmine.

Their treason conviction stems from a far right coup plot in the early 2000s to violently overthrow the ANC-led government. The plotters had planned to chase non-whites out of the country and to replace the government with military Boer leadership.