The man behind a white supremacist plot to kill Nelson Mandela has been found guilty of high treason. His 'Boeremag' organization planned to drive South Africa's black majority out of the country.
In a trial that started almost a decade ago, a South African Supreme Court judge on Thursday ruled former university lecturer Mike du Toit guilty of treason in a plot to violently overthrow the country's African National Congress government.
Among other things, witnesses testified that du Toit's Boeremag - or 'Boer Army' - organization planned to assassinate South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela, as part of its vision of ridding the country of blacks and Indians.
Mandela, who became president in 1994, acted as a unifying force after decades of white-minority rule and racial segregation under the apartheid system. He stood down in 1999 after one term.
Du Toit is the first of 20 men to be found guilty in a trial that started nine years ago to prosecute nine bombings in the Johnanesburg township of Soweto in 2002 in which one person died and dozens were injured.
The bombings are thought to have been aimed at creating instability and panic to facilitate an ouster of the ruling African National Congress.
Planned ethnic cleansing
The men are facing charges ranging from murder to terrorism and high treason. Prosecutors say du Toit is the first person found guilty of high treason in post-apartheid South Africa.
He faces life imprisonment, with sentencing expected next month.
The Boeremag's plan envisaged forcing South Africa's black majority of around 40 million people over the border into Zimbabwe and sending the country's 1.2 million Indians back to the subcontinent by boat.
The Boeremag also planned to shoot dead any whites who opposed their aspirations.
White supremacist groups such as the Boeremag have very little backing among South Africa's white population of five million.
tj/mz (Reuters, AFP, AP)