Pretoria, South Africa
14 February 2007 06:30
There is nothing to suggest that the Department of Correctional Services has any real fears that an escape plan allegedly hatched by former Boeremag escapees Herman van Rooyen and Rudi Gouws will actually be carried out if they are held in the same section of the C-Max prison, a high court judge said on Wednesday.
Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour this week launched an urgent application to set aside two previous court rulings about the joint incarceration of 12 of the 22 Boeremag accused in the same section of C-Max, as well as their rights to consult with each other and their legal representatives.
Three of the accused have already been moved to another section voluntarily, but Van Rooyen and Gouws turned to trial Judge Eben Jordaan for help after they were kept in chains in separate cells in a different section following their re-arrest.
They still appeared in court in leg irons, but rejoined the other accused in the closed "Boeremag section" at C-Max on Sunday after Jordaan last week said that his order about where they should be held remained valid.
Correctional services claim a document found in possession of Van Rooyen and Gouws during their latest arrest contains information of such a nature that there is a very real possibility that the objectives of the document will be executed if all of the accused are kept together and allowed to "roam free" in that section of the jail.
The court earlier heard that the document -- which remains secret -- contains new coup plans to overthrow the government, as well as a detailed escape plan, sketch plans and a description of the "weak points" of correctional services.
The prosecution objected to the application being heard by trial Judge Jordaan, as the document has not yet been placed before the court and might "contaminate" the judge, but Judge Hans Fabricius said many documents, which are eventually disregarded, are served before courts every day.
He said he could not at this stage find that correctional services' fears are real and was of the opinion that he would violate the accused's rights if he set aside previous court orders.
He refused to make an order and referred the matter back to Judge Jordaan for adjudication.