* Plotted aimed to kill Zuma and other top govt figures
* Involved mortar bomb and ground assault on ANC meeting
* Attack timed to coincide with 'Blood River' anniversary
By Jon Herskovitz
BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa, Dec 18 Four white
South Africans were charged with treason on Tuesday for plotting
to bomb a conference of the ruling African National Congress
(ANC) and kill President Jacob Zuma "execution style".
Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said the men had planned to attack
an ANC meeting, currently under way in the city of Bloemfontein,
as a step towards carving an independent Boer republic out of
Nelson Mandela's post-apartheid "Rainbow Nation".
The four, named as Mark Trollip, John Martin Keevy, Johan
Prinsloo and Hein Boonzaaier, were brought into court surrounded
by police and security guards armed with assault rifles.
Their lawyers did not enter a plea, and the men, aged
between 40 and 50 and dressed in shirts and jeans, remained
silent and impassive throughout the 20-minute hearing.
The vast majority of whites accepted the ANC victory in the
1994 election that brought Mandela to power and ended decades of
white-minority rule. However, a tiny minority continues to
oppose the historic political settlement.
The attack plan, which the plotters code-named "The
Slaughter of Mangaung" - 'cheetah' in the local Sesotho language
- included a mortar bomb attack on marquees housing ANC
That was to be followed by a ground assault targeting Zuma
and cabinet ministers as they had dinner, Abrahams told the
court. Zuma and others were to be shot "in execution style", he
The intention of the group, which had been trying to buy
AK-47 assault rifles, was "directly aimed at eliminating the
leadership of this country," Abrahams said.
The plan was about a year in the making, he added, and was
timed to coincide with the Dec. 16 anniversary of the 1838
Battle of Blood River, in which fewer than 500 Afrikaners
defeated more than 10,000 Zulus.
The battle, in which 3,000 Zulus are said to have died
against three wounded Afrikaners, has been mythologised in the
history of the Afrikaners, the white minority descended from
South Africa's earliest Dutch-speaking settlers.
The Afrikaner-dominated apartheid government commemorated
Blood River as a public holiday, but since 1994, Dec. 16 has
been rebranded "Reconciliation Day" in a bid to heal the wounds
of three centuries of white dominance and conflict.
The four men were detained on Sunday and Abrahams said more
arrests were likely to follow.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said the suspected plot amounted
to "an act of terrorism that South Africa can ill afford".