Cops thwart escape attempt by Boeremag accused

An attempt by five of the 20 Boeremag treason trialists to escape from custody at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria was foiled on Tuesday morning.

Police at the scene confirmed that all five were in custody again after making a dramatic attempt to escape during a tea break.

One of the men, Herman van Rooyen, broke a glass door at the court exit, sprayed ammonia into a security guard’s eyes and ran into the street.

He was caught within minutes by the police, with the help of car guards, in Paul Kruger Street close to the Palace of Justice on Church Square and dragged back into the court.

Another accused, Tom Vorster, physically attacked a policewoman but she hit back and brought him under control.

Three of the other accused — Mike du Toit, Vis Visagie and Rudi Gouws — were caught inside the court before they could escape.

Smuggled into court
A policewoman, three policemen and a security guard were taken to hospital after ammonia was sprayed in their eyes.

The ammonia was apparently smuggled into court in nose-spray bottles.

Police National Commissioner General Bheki Cele praised police for their “swift reaction” to the attempted escape.

“Our NIU [National Intervention Unit] members are well trained and highly experienced and no doubt this led to them being able to recapture all five, known to be highly dangerous, with the minimum use of force. I applaud them on their dedication,” said Cele in a statement.

According to police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer, there was a “strenuous struggle” between the accused and police during the escape attempt but no weapons were drawn and the “minimum force” was used under the circumstances.

De Beer confirmed that four NIU members were taken to hospital for their eye injuries.

Marathon trial
The marathon treason trial of 20 so-called Boeremag members continues after eight years in the Pretoria High Court. They are facing more than 40 charges related to a right-wing plot to overthrow the government.

Van Rooyen and Gouws had to wear manacles in court when they were recaptured following months on the run after they escaped from custody at the high court in Pretoria in 2006. The manacles were found inside court GD, where legal argument for the defence continued on Tuesday morning. It is not yet known yet known how they managed to free themselves from the leg irons.

All of the accused, including eight out on bail, were dragged back into court in the immediate aftermath of the escape attempt.

The trial began in Pretoria’s Palace of Justice in May 2003 under the glare of acute media interest, but the state only started presenting evidence five months later.

The state finally closed its case in June 2007 after calling 158 witnesses.

Numerous legal wrangles, including several applications about the conditions in jail and many dealing with Legal Aid Board disputes, have stretched the trial into one of the longest-running criminal trials in South African legal history. — Sapa


Stranded commuters say Ramaphosa’s rail promises ring hollow

Cape Town’s largest passenger rail line has been closed for months, hitting people’s pockets and adding to road traffic congestion

EFF ‘circus’ becomes contagion as MPs heckle Malema

ANC MPs test the EFF’s disruptive tactics on the leader of the Red Berets in Sona reply

Ramaphosa ‘neutral’ in Mkhwebane, Parliament impeachment row

However, the president says even if he has a conflict of interest, another Cabinet member could suspend the public protector

Strike-off case pulls in judge

Judge Mushtak Parker is implicated in an application to strike off his former partners. He is also involved in the fight between the Western Cape high court’s judge president and his deputy

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it