As early as April 2002, some of the Boeremag accused were already being arrested. The record setting trial commenced on 19 May 2002, which would continue for the next eleven years in the High Court of Pretoria. The main charge of which 24 Boers were found guilty on, was high treason. While a few received bail under the strictest conditions, eleven of them remained in custody, while bail was denied continuously. All of them (except two who died during the marathon trial) were found guilty of high treason and were variously sentenced on 28 October 2013.
The remark by Judge Eben Jordaan that he had taken the 11 years already served into account, of which they remained incarcerated or under the most severe bail conditions, seemed only to be lip-service, because he sentenced some of the convicted men for a further 25 years effective imprisonment.
The Boeremag men were sentenced on 28 October 2013 and found themselves for the next 4 years in a system effectively depriving them of their right to appeal. Some of the men were not even able to launch an application of leave to appeal. All of those who actually could launch an application of leave to appeal, had to bring the application again before Judge Eben Jordaan, who refused all the applications forthwith without consideration. Those who’s application of leave to appeal were denied by Judge Jordaan, are still struggling to launch their petition to the appeal court, but without any progress or success due to administrative red tape and lack of cooperation by government officials. Some of their legal representatives are not even able to get out of the starting block on this issue!
After almost four years of struggling without success, Dr Lets Pretorius and two of his sons, Drs Johan and Wilhelm Pretorius, have now decided to petition directly to the Judge President of the Constitutional Court, Judge Mogoeng-Mogoeng. In the petition they state that the system effectively deprived them of their right to appeal. It includes their incarceration circumstances created by the Department of Correctional Services, the procrastination and delays caused by the unjust and mal-administration of the Legal Aid Board and the courts.
In their petition the three Drs Pretorius ask for a court order to the effect that Prof. Hercules Booysen, and Mr. Julian Knight, be appointed respectively as their advocate and lawyer by the Legal Aid Board in order for them to contest the constitutionality and legality of their incarceration. They state that the constitution guarantees the right to appeal and the right of a judicial process which should commence and be completed without unreasonable delays. The delays caused by the incapacity of the system effectively deprive them of these rights, which renders their trial unfair.
To be incarcerated on grounds of an unfair trial, is unconstitutional and therefore unlawful. The international standard for any court case is 10 years from arrest until all forms of appeal have been exhausted. The Boeremag trial started 15 years ago this month.
The Drs. Pretorius are currently waiting for an answer of the judge president of the Constitutional Court.
Riëtte van Schalkwyk
(Spokesperson of Boervin)