Mr. Hein Boonzaaier, one of the accused in the so-called “Bloemfontein 4 terrorism case” has just walked free from the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, with the state withdrawing all charges against him. After eight months of investigations, the state could not find evidence of wrongdoing against the blogger and activist.
Over the last few years Mr. Boonzaaier had visited the United States twice, also attending an American Renaissance conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to him, he was seen to be guilty “by association” in having sought support for the Afrikaner cause among US conservatives.
On 16 December 2012, the Day of the Vow for Afrikaners, Mr. Boonzaaier was out in his garden walking his beloved dog, an indigenous Boerboel bitch. He lives in Centurion, a suburb of Pretoria.
“It was exactly a quarter to eight in the morning,” he said. “The next moment there appeared 30 heavily armed policemen in full-body armour and with automatic weapons trained on me. I had no idea what was going on and did not know whether it was some kind of joke or whether I should run away.”
In an open letter published Monday in Afrikaans elsewhere on the PRAAG site, he explained how both his dog and his wife were threatened too, with the sub-machine guns being waved about. The heavily armed police had two warrants: one to search his house and another to arrest him for high treason.
He had to spend two months in prison before he was let out on bail. The state opposed his bail application, as well as those of the three other accused, Johan Prinsloo, Mark Trollip and Martin Keevy.
According to his legal team, “he should never have been arrested”. Boonzaaier stated: “I think it purely revolved around an attempt to discredit me, a goal in which the state and the media have amply succeeded.”
Trial by media
Mr. Boonzaaier’s day job is that of financial consultant. Both South Africa’s powerful Naspers media group and the left-wing Mail & Guardian newspaper castigated him with a “trial by media” during which he was vilified as a “right-wing extremist”, “coup plotter” and so on.
According to Boonzaaier there was an attempt to fabricate evidence against him by distorting statements he had made in the USA so that “it would sound as if he had said exactly the opposite of what he had said in reality”.
Before his arrest, Boonzaaier was involved in the formation of a new political party, the Federal Freedom Party, aiming to contest elections in 2014 in South Africa. He was elected as president of the new party. “My attempt to participate in democratic politics was, however, answered with a ham-fisted, wrongful arrest,” he said.
Boonzaaier is of the opinion that the order to arrest him came from within the ruling ANC. “The most bizarre thing was that the National Prosecuting Authority, which is an independent body in terms of the South African constitution, did not want to release me, despite there being no proper charge or evidence against me. Only when the minister agreed to it, was I finally released. South Africa is becoming more and more like Zimbabwe where the criminal justice system is controlled by politicians within the ruling party.”
“I think it was all part of a plan to discredit our political party, apart from it being directed against me personally. I got the impression that the government did not want me to take part in politics,” Boonzaaier said.
The case against his three fellow accused is continuing. Mr. Martin Keevy was previously declared “psychologically unfit to stand trial“, something which the state prosecutor is disputing. So Keevy has now been referred back to the Bloemfontein psychiatric institution which examined him in the first place for a second observation period of 30 days.