Mandela plot: South African convicted of treason

Mike du Toit (May 2003) Mike du Toit, a former academic, has been on trial for nine years

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The mastermind of a white supremacist plot to kill Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has been convicted of treason.

A Pretoria court ruled that Boeremag group leader Mike du Toit was behind the nine bombings in Johannesburg's Soweto township in 2002.

He is the first person to be convicted of treason in South Africa since white minority rule ended in 1994.

Analysts say race relations in South Africa are still tense.

However, white extremist groups like Boeremag, which means Afrikaner Power in Afrikaans, have very little support, they say.

'Blueprint for revolution'

The Pretoria High Court handed down its verdict against Du Toit, a former academic, following a nine-year trial.

Earlier Judge Eben Jordaan said Du Toit had authored a blueprint for revolution intended to evict black people from most of South Africa and to kill anyone who got in the way, the South African Press Association reports.

Witnesses told the court that Boeremag had carried out a spate of bombings in Soweto in 2002, killing one person.

The Boeremag had also planned to stage a coup and assassinate Mr Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison before being elected president in 1994 and acted as a unifying force after decades of white-minority rule.

The group also intended to shoot whites who opposed their vision of a racially pure nation, the witnesses said.

More than 20 other suspects were on trial with Du Toit, but the court has not yet ruled on their fate.

Nearly 200 people gave evidence for the state - including police informants within Boeremag.

Mr Mandela stood down as South Africa's president in 1999 after serving one term, handing over to Thabo Mbeki.

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