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Boeremag members sentenced

North Gauteng High Court has handed down sentences ranging from five years to the maximum of 35 years.

Some of the Boeremag accused being led to the holding cells in the North Gauteng High court. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

PRETORIA - The North Gauteng High Court has handed down sentences ranging from five years to the maximum of 35 years for the 20 men accused of high treason in the so-called Boeremag trial.

Judge Eben Jordaan took into account that some had spent time in prison, meaning a few will walk free.

All the men were convicted last year of high treason while five were found guilty on the additional charges of culpable homicide and conspiracy to commit murder.

Gasps of disbelief came from the gallery before families started sobbing when the judge handed down 35 year sentences to four of the members.

These men, including Herman van Rooyen and Rudi Gouws who escaped from police custody and were rearrested, were responsible for planting bombs and the plot to kill former President Nelson Mandela.

The other men received sentences of between five and 20 years, depending on their degree of involvement in the coup plot.

Jordaan took into consideration that almost half of the accused have spent up to 11 years in jail, which means some of them will walk away today as free men.

Caption - The Boeremag trial has lasted more than a decade. Five of the accused in the dock back in May 2003. Picture: AFP.

While there is the hope this has brought an end to one of the longest running and most expensive trials in South African legal history, there remains the prospect of appeals against these sentences.

SENTENCING

During sentencing, Jordaan said van Rooyen and Gouws planned to destroy a democracy and chase black citizens out of the country.

Caption - Boeremag accused Kobus Pretorius arrives at the High Court back in August 2003. Picture: AFP.

He said the state has called for stiff sentences to be imposed, a matter he agrees with.

The judge said Van Rooyen was part of the group, which developed explosives and gathered firearms to be used in the coup.

Van Rooyen was part of the group that planted bombs, which lead to the death of a Soweto woman.

He was also one of the men who escaped and was rearrested.

The state contends that he has shown no remorse and cannot be rehabilitated.

The decade-long trial is believed to have cost taxpayers more than R30 million in legal-aid fees for the accused.