JACKPOT QUESTION: WHERE IS THAT SLEAZY JODY KOLLAPEN AND HIS SO-CALLED "HUMAN RIGHTS" NEO-COMMUNISTS NOW? IS IT BECAUSE THESE MEN ARE WHITE BOERS THAT THE ANC DRAGOONS ARE PERMANENTLY MEDDLING INTO THE CASE TO KEEP THEM THERE?
"The men complained to the court that they were facing psychological breakdown, and one of them had even contemplated suicide, because of the 'black music' played on MetroFM nine hours every day at the maximum security prison where they are being held"
Boeremag 3 on army's payroll
SANDF keeping treason accused in fine style - at a cost of R10m
May 9, 2010 12:00 AM | By Prega Govender
The minister of defence's signature is the only thing missing from a document authorising the dismissal of three members of the Boeremag from the army - and her failure to sign it is costing her department millions of rands.
Seven years and R30m later, the Boeremag is still in the dock
quote The men complained to the court that they were facing psychological breakdown, and one of them had even contemplated suicide, because of the 'black music' played on MetroFM nine hours every day at the maximum security prison where they are being held quote
* Boeremag 3 on army's payroll
FROM Monday to Friday most weeks for the last six years, court GD at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has sat for an average of four precious hours a day.
The court room is turned into a "high priority" security area each time 21 men accused of trying to overthrow South Africa's first democratic government appear.
Commonly known as the Boeremag case, the prosecution of these men has turned into the country's longest-running criminal trial that has cost taxpayers nearly R30-million to date.
This Tuesday, once again, the 21 men will be in court to face 42 charges including high treason and sabotage, murder and attempted murder, after a break in proceedings since May.
Apart from the exorbitant legal cost, the case has also:
Forced the chief prosecutor in the case to move from his office into a makeshift one in a basement;
Spawned an astounding volume of paperwork that currently stands at 39 000 documents; and
Seen the only one of the accused to plead guilty already serve his sentence and be released under correctional supervision.
Responsible for trying the men is a deputy director of prosecutions, Paul Fick, who has been forced to move from his office at the National Prosecuting Authority into a makeshift one at the Palace of Justice to accommodate all the paperwork the trial has generated.
Over the last six years, Fick and his team have been doggedly wading through the astounding volume of paperwork.
On the other side are a heavy-weight defence team comprising two attorneys and nine advocates who are funded by the Legal Aid Board.
The accused are: an electrician, an engineer, a retired lecturer, a group of farmers, two medical doctors, a cash loan company owner and several students.
Three others, a colonel in the SANDF as well as two majors, have continued to receive their government salaries which by July this year, were estimated to have reached a total of R11-million.
The case goes back to 2002 when the police finished a two-year investigation into the Boeremag's alleged plot to destroy the country's infrastructure in an outrageous bid to get rid of the new government and chase out all non-whites to clear the path for an exclusive Boer republic.
In May 2003 the high court trial of the 23 men accused of the plot began. One has subsequently died.
Shortly after proceedings began, seven of the accused pleaded not guilty, while the others refused to plead - claiming they did not recognise the court's jurisdiction or the government's legitimacy.
Pleas of not guilty were, by law, entered on their behalf.
Only one, Dawid Oosthuizen, pleaded guilty to a charge of terrorism after entering into a plea bargain with the state that saw him become one of its witnesses.
Oosthuizen was sentenced to an effective eight years in prison, but was released in 2006 after his sentence was changed to one of correctional supervision.
Over the years, the accused have employed a number of delaying tactics, from trying to prevent Judge Eben Jordaan from hearing the matter on the grounds of alleged bias to attempting to have Fick kicked off the case because they believed he lacked integrity.
Other objections during the trial included complaints about prison conditions that the accused said made them too tired to sit in court for a full day.
One of the more bizarre complaints related to the "torture" those in custody had to endure because of the prison's choice of radio station.
The men complained to the court that they were facing psychological breakdown, and one of them had even contemplated suicide, because of the "black music" played on MetroFM nine hours every day at the maximum security prison in Pretoria where they are being held, C-Max.
Although the state closed its case two years ago, argument and cross-examination of witnesses has continued.
A key component of the state's case against the accused is "document 12" - of which there are 14 versions. It provides step-by-step details of the planned coup, including how the Boeremag would take over radio stations and military bases, damage electrical substations and ground aircraft.
These operations would pave the way for the accused to reclaim power and set up a new government.
After that, according to document 12, the group would begin chasing out all blacks and Indians, as well as white sympathisers - at first trying to lure them out of the country with a trail of food and, if that did not work, by force.
From the court documents, it is clear that the group was driven by religious motives and the fear that whites would perish under a black government.
They tried to spread fear among the Afrikaner community that blacks were planning an imminent deadly attack on whites that would include rape and pillage.
They called on supporters to join the "struggle", claiming that "the Almighty Father" expected it of them.
In addition, the accused are charged with conspiring to blow up a vehicle that former president Nelson Mandela was supposed to travel in on October 11 2002.
As the trial drags on, the costs continue to rise.
More than R20-million has been forked out in legal aid for the accused since the trial began, said the spokesman for the Legal Aid Board, Mpho Phasha.
Another R7-million or so has been spent on housing and feeding those in custody. And then there are the costs of the judge, the prosecution team, court time and security, which cannot be quantified.
But the spokesman for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Tlali Tlali, this week defended the spending.
He said that, although the cost of a trial should not be discounted, the nature of the charges also had to be taken into account.
He said once a decision had been made to prosecute, it had to be followed through.
Any decision to discontinue a case would have to be based on compelling grounds and could not be made on the basis of only one factor, Tlal i said.
"Whilst a cost consideration is not an element to downplay, similarly the nature of charges that the accused persons are facing should not be discounted," Tlali said.
Three years ago, a board recommended the "administrative discharge" of Colonel Machiel Burger, Major Jacques Olivier and Major Pieter van Deventer, but neither minister Lindiwe Sisulu's office nor that of her predecessor, COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota, have finalised the matter.
The three men, who have been suspended on full pay since October 2002, have earned more than R10-million between them since then .
Burger's annual salary is about R448000; Olivier's is R192000 and Van Deventer's R365000. The three also qualify for annual salary increases and other allowances.
The men are among the 21 accused facing 42 charges of, among other things, terrorism, sabotage and murder, in a marathon treason trial in the High Court in Pretoria that is now in its seventh year.
They stand accused of being involved in several attacks aimed at overthrowing the government in 2002. These included an explosion at a railway track in Soweto, where a woman was killed; blasts at a mosque and an attempt to blow up a Buddhist temple in Bronkhorstspruit, outside Pretoria.
A board convened in July and December 2007, chaired by Brigadier-General EM Meshoala, confirmed that it was awaiting the minister of defence's final approval for the dismissal of the three men. Lekota was minister of defence at the time.
The chief of the SA National Defence Force, General Godfrey Ngwenya, said this week that he would meet his legal section soon to "revisit" the case of the Boeremag three.
"It's pointless to go to the minister and expect her to take a decision when her own legal people are not in agreement," he said. "It cannot be correct for us to be paying these people for such a long time without doing anything ... (but) our own legal people are very edgy when it comes to dismissals."
The Boeremag trio are not the only beneficiaries of the SANDF's slow progress on dismissals. Until July last year, 22 members of the SANDF had been on suspension on full pay for several years for serious allegations including rape, armed robbery, and the theft of military equipment.
One senior officer who received full pay while on suspension from duty for several years is Brigadier-General Nzima Nobanda. He was convicted of culpable homicide in 2003 after shooting his daughter's 19-year-old friend, Shane Coetzee.
Repeated attempts to get confirmation from the SANDF on whether he remains on the payroll have failed.
More than R41-million has so far been paid to 861 soldiers suspended following last year's march on the Union Buildings in protest of poor salaries.
But, according to the South African National Defence Union's secretary-general, Pikkie Greef, suspension without pay for these men is far from enjoyable.
"It might sound nice to sit at home getting paid, but I can assure you the members I deal with are definitely not satisfied," said Greef. "There's a feeling of despondency."
He said it was unacceptable for soldiers to be placed on suspension for long periods.
"The department opted not to subject the soldiers to a military trial because the processes were too slow. Ironically, a military trial could already have been completed in the past eight months."
The Department of Defence declined to comment, saying the matter was still before the courts.