PRETORIA, South Africa - Mike du Toit, the leader of a South African white supremacist group accused of plotting in the 1990s to overthrow the African National Congress (ANC) government and assassinate then-president Nelson Mandela, was convicted of treason by a court in the African nation on Thursday.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria convicted Toit, former university lecturer, finding him guilty of orchestrating a string of bombings in 2002 in Johannesburg's Soweto township. One person was killed in the attacks.
The court's decision made Toit, the leader of the pro-apartheid Boeremag group, the first person to be convicted of treason in South Africa since white minority rule ended in 1994. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Judge Eben Jordaan noted in his ruling that Du Toit had also authored a blueprint for revolution intended to evict black people from most of South Africa and to kill anyone who got in the way, including whites.
Tiot's was arrested along with several others in April 2002, and has since been in prison. His trial lasted for almost nine years. Twenty-one other suspects also went on trial with Toit. All of them are facing numerous charges including high treason, terrorism and murder. Their verdicts are expected over the next few weeks.
During the course of the trial, witnesses claimed that the Boeremag group had planned to assassinate Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president, for creating chaos that would have served as a "trigger" for setting the coup plan in motion.
Incidentally, Mandela was elected as South Africa's president in 1994. Prior to that, he had spent 27 years in prison during the apartheid. Mandela had stepped down as president in 1999, just after one term in office.