'Battle of Mangaung' bombers to reappear in court

The four men accused of plotting the assassination of President Zuma and other cabinet members in December. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The four men accused of plotting the assassination of President Zuma and other cabinet members in December. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The men accused of plotting the assassination of ANC president Jacob Zuma and other senior Cabinet members at the ANC's 53rd national conference in Mangaung in December are expected to reappear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Friday, in the second round of their bail application.

Mark Trollip, Johan Prinsloo, Martin Keevy and Hein Boonzaaier appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon for their formal bail application. The case was postponed until Friday when arguments will be heard. They are charged with high treason and conspiracy to commit terrorism.

The state alleges that the plot, dubbed the “Battle of Mangaung”, was devised by the four, who allegedly planned to open fire on a packed tent housing the ANC’s conference delegates, as well as the party and country’s leadership. 

The four have denied the claims as well as alleged meetings that took place during which the “plot” was conceived.

They argued on Tuesday that their business interests suffered while they were in prison. They have been kept in custody since their arrest on December 16.

Afrikaner liberation ideology
Two of the men, Prinsloo and Boonzaaier, are members of the newly-established political party, the Federale Vryheidsfront. The party has distanced itself from the allegations against the two and said they would be suspended.

At their court appearance on December 18, state prosecutor Shaun Abrahams outlined the elaborate plot which overlapped with Afrikaner liberation ideology and the establishment of an independent Boer nation.

An email seen by the Mail & Guardian from one of the accused, addressed to a well-known Afrikaner right-winger, suggested that at least one of the four believed militancy would be necessary to achieve the Boer nation’s political goals.

The email outlined the closure of state-owned institutions, cutting of water supply to townships and the threat of bloodshed.

In December, Abrahams told the court the alleged assassination plot would coincide with the December 16 commemoration of the Battle of Blood River – when the sunlight struck an unnamed monument at noon.

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics.  Read more from Sarah Evans

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