South Africa court convicts extremist group leader of high treason

[JURIST] The North Gauteng High Court at Pretoria in South Africa on Thursday convicted of high treason the leader of an extremist group responsible for nine bombings in Johannesburg's Soweto township in 2002. Mike du Toit, leader of the white supremacist group Boeremag [backgrounder], has been on trial for nine years and is the first person found guilty of high treason in post-apartheid [Cornell LII backgrounder] South Africa. Du Toit is among 20 men facing charges ranging from murder to terrorism and high treason [AFP report]. The charges also relate to an alleged plot to stage a coup and assassinate Nelson Mandela [advocacy website], elected president of South Africa when white minority rule ended in 1994. The Boeremag bombings were allegedly aimed at creating instability and panic to allow the group to unseat the ruling African National Congress [official website].

Earlier this month South African Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected the first female leader [JURIST report] of the African Union (AU) [official website; JURIST news archive], securing 37 out of 54 votes to win the required two-thirds majority. She is also the first South African to hold the post. In April South Africa announced that it will issue pardons to 35,000 convicts [JURIST report] in order to ease prison overcrowding. South African President Jacob Zuma [BBC profile] issued the pardons, known as "special remissions," in honor of Freedom Day, which commemorates Nelson Mandela winning the nation's first all-race elections in 1994.

 

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