Pretoria, South Africa
15 February 2007 03:56
Increased security measures have been taken at Pretoria's C-Max prison to prevent the Boeremag treason trial accused from escaping, the Pretoria High Court heard on Thursday.
Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour earlier this week applied for two previous court orders, dealing with the incarceration and consultation arrangements of 12 of the 22 Boeremag accused, to be set aside.
The Correctional Services Department expressed concern that the objectives of a document found in possession of re-captured Boeremag escapees Rudi Gouws and Herman van Rooyen would be carried out if the two were held with the others in the same section at C-Max.
The document -- which may not be published -- apparently contained a detailed escape plan.
Three of the treason triallists have already been moved out of the "Boeremag section" of the jail at their own request.
Judge Eben Jordaan said he was not prepared to hear the application at this stage, following objections that he could be "contaminated" by information in the "secret" document, which has not yet been admitted as evidence in the criminal trial.
He referred the application to Judge Hans Fabricius, who in turn refused to make an order and referred the matter back to Judge Jordaan.
Counsel for the minister, Jaco Roux, said this left the department in an unenviable checkmate situation, because there was no ruling to appeal and Judge Jordaan did not want to hear the application -- or even read through it -- at this stage.
Correctional services therefore had no choice but than to shelve the application until the document on which it wanted to rely was before the court. This situation also worried the department, which could not choose when and if the state decided to use the document.
Roux said extra security measures had, meanwhile been put in place, but this was only a short-term solution, as they placed enormous strain on correctional services.
Gouws and Van Rooyen -- both farmers in the Bela-Bela district -- have appeared in court in leg irons since their escape from the cells at the Pretoria High Court during a lunch break in May last year. They escaped despite the presence of numerous armed members of the National Intervention Unit. -- Sapa