Extremists 'plotted to expel blacks from South Africa'

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The Independent Online

White extremists accused of planning to assassinate Nelson Mandela plotted to expel South Africa's 35 million blacks and kill any who resisted, the High Court in Pretoria was told yesterday.

The 22 right-wingers also intended to force a million South Africans of Indian origin to leave the country. The defendants, the first people to face treason charges in post-apartheid South Africa, wanted to reinstate the policies of institutionalised racial segregation that ended with all-race elections in 1994, the court was told. The accused are members of a fanatical organisation called Boeremag. They also face charges of terrorismand of planning to overthrow Mr Mandela's government.

They were arrested after a spate of bombings in the black township of Soweto in October last year, which killed one woman. The trial was to have started in May but was delayed by pre-trial wrangling. The extremists refused to recognise the judiciary in South Africa, which is ruled by blacks.

The trial began yesterday with the state's first witness, Johannes Coenraad Smit, a police informant and former right-winger. He said: "Black people would have been chased to Zimbabwe."

The coup included plans for the country's Indians to be expelled to the east coast, from where they would have been shipped to India. Blacks and Indians who resisted would have been shot, he said.

Details of the coup plot were in a document Mr Smit said he received from the organisation's leader, Mike du Toit, in June 2001. Codenamed "Document 12", it outlines phases beginning with the recruitment of members followed by the elimination of a host of enemies, including Mr Mandela. It would have ended with the formation of a white government that would in effect have returned South Africa to apartheid.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation, regarded by the extremists as a propaganda tool for Mr Mandela's ruling African National Congress, would also have been bombed, Mr Smit said. The trial continues.