Mastermind in Mandela plot convicted of treason | News | DW | 26.07.2012
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Mastermind in Mandela plot convicted of treason

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.

South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela, after receiving a torch to celebrate the African National Congress' centenary from ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete, unseen, in Mandela's home village Qunu in rural eastern South Africa Wednesday May 30, 2012. Nelson Mandela's African National Congress brought its centenary celebrations to his home village in rural eastern South Africa. (Foto:Lulamile Feni-Daily Dispatch/AP/dapd) SOUTH AFRICA OUT

Südafrika Nelson Mandela

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.

This photo taken on July 25, 2012, shows accused Mike du Toit (R) and his brother Andre du Toit (L) standing in the courtroom at the Pretoria Hight Court. The 'Boeremag' trial (Afrikaans for Boer Force) of 20 rightwingers accused of high treason, terrorism and possession of weapons and explosives has been billed as one of the longest and most expensive in South Africa. On July 23, the Pretoria High Courg began delivering a judgement. On October 30, 2002, nine bomb blasts shook Soweto in the early hours of the morning, killing a woman and injuring her husband. The bombings were said to be aimed at creating instability and panic to allow the group to unseat the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and chase blacks and Indians from the country. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/GettyImages)

Du Toit, right, is expected to be sentenced next month

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)