The Mercury

Boeremag pair quietly let out on parole

- ZELDA VENTER zelda.venter@inl.co.za

ONE of the Boeremag’s bomb manufactur­ers, Kobus Pretorius, and his father, Dr Lets Pretorius, were quietly released on parole last year.

They and others prepared the home-made bomb which was due to be placed to injure or kill then president Nelson Mandela in 2002 while he was on his way to open a school in Bolobedu, Limpopo.

Both were sentenced at the end of the country’s first treason trial under the new dispensati­on in 2013. The father and son served about seven years of their 20-year jail term.

The Department of Justice and Correction­al Services confirmed that they were placed on parole after serving the required minimum number of years in jail. The two met the requiremen­ts to be placed on parole, it said.

Pretorius sr, a medical doctor, has been reunited with his wife, Minnie, who has stood by his side since the arrest of her husband and three sons around 2002. Her two other sons, Wilhelm, a theologian, and Johan, also a medical doctor, are still in jail. Both were sentenced to 25 years each for their roles in the acts of treason.

Kobus broke away from his family halfway through the trial and denounced his parents. He blamed them and his upbringing for his crimes and said he was now a different person with changed values and goals.

In a failed applicatio­n brought earlier to be released on parole, Kobus said he was rehabilita­ted to such an extent that there was no need for him to serve jail time. He said he had been rehabilita­ted, repented of his crimes, and had undergone courses in jail.

Kobus asked that certain provisions of the Correction­al Services Act be amended to make it possible for a prisoner to be released on parole earlier if “exceptiona­l circumstan­ces” were present.

The judge at the time refused and said Kobus and his co-accused were sentenced on serious charges, which included plans to overthrow the then new government and a conspiracy to murder Mandela.

She said the trial judge, Eben Jordaan, took into account all the mitigating factors when he sentenced Kobus to 20 years. She said the court was fair to him at the time, as the prosecutio­n had called for a life sentence.

Lets Pretorius and his other two sons subsequent­ly also asked to be released during an applicatio­n in 2019, which was also turned down.

The three felt their legal rights were trampled on during and after their trial, which started in 2003 and lasted a decade.

They were among a group of 21 men sentenced on charges relating to high treason. While some received lesser sentences and are already out of jail, Boeremag military leader Tom Vorster and “bomb squad” members Herman van Rooyen, Rudi Gouws and Pretorius brothers Johan and Wilhelm are still in jail following their effective 25-year sentences.

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