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Boeremag pair 'favoured in jail'

By Bongani Nkosi | 2016-02-21 10:02:36.0

Two Boeremag Inmates at Baviaanspoort Prison in Pretoria appear to have access to a cellphone.

Leaked pictures Sowetan has obtained show Dirk Hanekom and Herman van Rooyen apparently using a cellphone at the prison. Cellphones are prohibited in South African prisons. But the smuggling of mobile phones into prisons is so widespread that Minister of Correctional Services Michael Masutha plans to jam them.

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Sowetan reported last September that the Correctional Services Department was in talks with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to install cellphone jamming devices in prisons.

This week, Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka said the talks were still on.

Hanekom and Van Rooyen are jailed at Baviaanspoort for their roles in Boeremag terrorist attacks and conspiracy for more attacks in 2002.

Boeremag, an Afrikaner right-wing group, conspired to topple the ANC government. Its members were sentenced in 2013 for treason, after a decade-long trial.

As leader of the organisation, Hanekom was sentenced to 30 years in prison. This was the same sentence meted out to another Boeremag leader, Lets Pretorius. Tom Vorster, another leader, was sentenced to 25 years.

Van Rooyen, a member of the Boeremag bomb squad, was sentenced to 25 years. Other bombers, Rudi Gouws and brothers Johan and Wilhelm Pretorius, were also handed similar sentences.

These bomb squad members faced an additional 13 years imprisonment for culpable homicide relating to the death of Soweto mother Claudia Mokone and conspiracy to murder the late former president Nelson Mandela.

Mokone died in her shack following an explosion of a bomb the Boeremag had planted on a railway line.

A group of prisoners is unhappy about what they said was special and privileged treatment of Hanekom and van Rooyen - leaked through photos via a family member not in prison.

They said they clandestinely took the pictures last month to "show how privileged they (Hanekom and Van Rooyen) are and how management tolerates them more than everybody else. They use their phones without hiding them. They get more privileges than inmates of other races."

Ofentse Morwane, Gauteng Correctional Ser vices spokesman, said: "Officials searched Van Rooyen and Hanekom after receiving questions from Sowetan on Monday but did not find any phones. "Following the allegations ... a search operation was conducted. No cellphones were found in either of them."

"The allegations of preferential treatment are unfortunate and misleading as no offender is allowed to be in possession of a cellphone or any kind of electronic device." nkosib@sowetan.co.za

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