Two dozen white zealots, the self-appointed saviours of the Afrikaner people, have fought a decade-long rearguard action in the Gauteng High Court. Judgment is being given at last but it is perhaps not the looming heavy sentences that will cut most deeply.
For it is clear that the Boeremag accused – charged with treason, murder and attempted murder, among other offences – are outcasts from their people. Far from having carved a niche in the pantheon of Boer heroes, their stupidity has come to define the dom in Afrikanerdom.
The critical flaw was the assumption that Afrikaners would rally, much as the embattled Boers did around the revered General Koos de la Rey during the Anglo-Boer War. The anniversary of De La Rey’s death was chosen for the planned 2002 uprising that would establish a Boere Republiek and at least one accused claimed for himself the rank of generaal, affecting also the great man’s fearsome facial bristles.
It was all a massive miscalculation. It quickly became apparent there was zero popular support from Afrikaners who, though they have plenty of gripes with the African National Congress government, savvily realise that peace, economic growth and the end to their polecat status in the world, are preferable to ill-fated insurrections based on the prophecies of a Boer Nostradamus of almost a century ago.
Modern Afrikaners decided that the new Republic, however flawed, is preferable to promises of a Boer Utopia, albeit with guaranteed work, no inflation, the cancellation of debt, and a house or land for every citizen
So when they were approached for recruitment, Afrikaners serving in the new SA National Defence Force fell over themselves to report the planned insurrection. The Boeremag was quickly infiltrated with police spies. Afrikaner spies.
Such Afrikaner scepticism meant the Boeremag was all officers and no soldiers. A young mechanic recounted to the court how his boss (now one of the accused) one day bustled in, ordered him to raise his right hand and repeat a garbled oath, and then informed him that he was now a solider in the Boeremag. No, he was not, the young man decided, and made himself scarce.
The Boeremag’s goals were incendiary, verging on genocidal. They would trigger the uprising with a calamitous event of 9/11 proportions, following which blacks would be indiscriminately bombed and mowed down.
However crazy they might seem, these were not idle fantasies. The automatic firearms had been collected, the shrapnel-packed bombs assembled, vehicles procured and packed with explosives. Earlier random bombings had already killed one and injured dozens.
But Boeremag strategies were doomed not only by the indifference of the Volk but by the staggering naiveté of its leaders.
Government fighter planes would be shot down with hunting rifles; poisoned oranges would be scattered by air to decimate Soweto; blacks would be herded up the N1 into Zimbabwe, Indians down the N3 to Durban and thence to India; recalcitrant whites would clean up the empty townships or be shot; and draftees were to report for insurrection with firearm, Bible, hymnal, and suntan lotion.
The uprising was to be internally financed. When abandoned because it was clear that arrest was imminent, all they had rung up was a R30 000 donation from one of the generaals, and promises of revenue from the sale of 40 hectares of sunflowers and 200 sheep.
This kind of delusional behaviour echoes plans for right-wing insurrection elsewhere, such as in the United States and, most recently Norway, where Anders Breivik massacred 77 young people in July last year. It is vile brew of racist paranoia, laced with anti-Semitism, peppered with apocalyptic semi-religious visions, and stirred by societal misfits with Messianic delusions.
It is a bitter pill then for the Boeremag that God’s “Chosen People” of the African veld, in whose name it planned genocide, declined to be rescued. De La Rey, who was an honourable and reluctant warrior, would be pleased.