Kobus Pretorius, his father Lets Pretorius were sentenced at end of SA’s first treason trial under new dispensation in 2013.
ONE OF THE Boeremag’s bomb manufacturers, Kobus Pretorius, and his father Dr Lets Pretorius were quietly released on parole last year.
They and others prepared the home-made bomb that was due to be placed to injure or kill then-president Nelson Mandela in 2002 while he was on his way to open a school in Bolobedu, Limpopo.
Both were sentenced at the end of the country’s first treason trial under the new dispensation in 2013. The father and son served about seven years of their 20-year jail term.
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services confirmed that they were placed on parole after serving the required minimum number of years in jail. The two met the requirements to be placed on parole.
Pretorius sr, a medical doctor, has been reunited with his wife Minnie Pretorius, who has stood by his side since the arrest of her husband and three sons around 2002.
Her two other sons, Wilhelm, a theologian, and Johan, also a medical doctor, are still in jail. Both were sentenced to 25 years each for their roles in the acts of treason.
Kobus broke away from his family halfway through the trial and denounced his parents. He blamed them and his upbringing for his crimes and now lives with his spiritual counsellor Sonia Jordaan and her husband.
They stood by Kobus for a large duration of the trial, and he at the time said he regarded them as his new parents.
In a failed application brought earlier to be released on parole, Kobus said he was rehabilitated to such an extent that there was no need for him to serve jail time. He said he had been rehabilitated, repented of his crimes, and undergone all the courses possible in jail. Thus, he said, he had no further business being in jail.
Kobus asked that certain provisions of the Correctional Services Act be amended to make it possible for a prisoner to be released on parole earlier if “exceptional circumstances” were present.
The judge at the time refused and said Kobus and his co-accused were sentenced on serious charges, which included plans to overthrow the then new government and conspiracy to murder Mandela. She said the trial judge, Eben Jordaan, took into account all the mitigating factors when he sentenced Kobus to 20 years. She said the court was fair to him at the time, as the prosecution had called for a life sentence.
Kobus at the time blamed his family for the fact that he had committed treason, and said he was under them “in a jail without walls”.
He said he was now a different person with changed values and goals.
Lets Pretorius and his other two sons subsequently also asked to be released during an application in 2019, which was also turned down. The three felt their legal rights were trampled on during and after their trial, which started in 2003 and lasted a decade.
They were among a group of 21 men sentenced on charges relating to high treason. While some received lesser sentences and are already out of jail, Boeremag military leader Tom Vorster and “bomb squad” members Herman van Rooyen, Rudi Gouws, and Pretorius brothers Johan and Wilhelm, are still in jail following their effective 25-year sentences.
Wilhelm earlier also lost his bid for conjugal rights in prison with his wife Riette. The couple have a toddler son. This was after Wilhelm won his legal bid to artificially inseminate his wife.
Correctional Services Act expert and lawyer Julian Knight said: “There is nothing strange in the department not notifying anyone about the Boeremag members being placed on parole. The Act does not require the department to inform the public when an inmate meets the requirements of the parole board.”