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Alleged Plotters in Court

South Africa: Two white men face charges in purported plan to oust black-led government.

September 24, 2002|From Reuters

PRETORIA, South Africa — Two South African men appeared in court amid heavy security Monday to face charges in connection with an alleged plot by white extremists to overthrow South Africa's black-led government.

Dirk Hanekom and Henk van Zyl were arrested Friday after several weeks on the run. They join 10 other white men accused of planning to attack army and police installations. A hearing was set for Oct. 2. Police arrested Hanekom, 46, and Van Zyl, 37, during a raid on a farm in Free State province. They were still searching for another suspect. The 10 additional suspects include three former members of the military. Four are out on bail; six are in custody.

According to court documents, the alleged conspirators hoped to recruit 3,700 people to seize army and police installations. Police have also found arms caches they believe are connected to the case.

Fringe right-wing groups are not considered a serious threat to the African National Congress-led government. But analysts believe they are still capable of causing damage.

Mainstream Afrikaner leaders have condemned the alleged plotters and say right-wing groups are taking advantage of Afrikaner concerns about affirmative action, language preservation and crime.

"For Afrikaners to position themselves as the permanent enemy of the government will not solve their problems," Pieter Mulder, leader of the mainstream Afrikaans Freedom Front, wrote in City Press, a Sunday newspaper that has a mostly black readership.

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