Three White ANC Members Plead Guilty To Terrorism Charges
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) _ Three white members of the main guerrilla group trying to overthrow the white-run government in South Africa pleaded guilty today to 10 counts of terrorism.
The members of the outlawed African National Congress were acquitted of 16 other charges, including 14 counts of attempted murder linked to the March, 1988, bombing of a military passenger bus.
The so-called Broederstroom Three were arrested on May 8, 1988, at a farmhouse in Broederstroom near Pretoria where, according to police, they had amassed the largest guerrilla arms chache ever found in South Africa.
The three are Damien Michael de Lange, 31, a former journalist who was born in Zambia; Ian Robertson, 37, a South African who allegedly received guerrilla training in the Soviet Union; and Susan Donelly, 24, a British subject who allegedly was the unit’s communications specialist. The 16 charges they were acquitted on included terrorism and illegal possession of weapons.
Attorneys said sentencing would begin Tuesday.
It was not known why the three defendants pleaded guilty shortly after their trial began, but a fourth person arrested with them, Hugh Lugg, reportedly a government infiltrator, was believed ready to testify as a state witness. Lugg did not appear in court today and was not charged.
A fifth African National Congress member, Paul Annegarn, fled the country.
The three pleaded guilty in the bus bombing and to setting a bomb that destroyed an electricity pylon and a communications antenna.
They also pleaded guilty to belonging to an outlawed organization, taking part in the organization’s activities, receiving weapons and explosives, and unlawful possession of hand grenades.
The African National Congress was banned in 1961, and a year later Nelson Mandela formed its military wing. Mandela is now serving a life prison term for sabotage and plotting to overthrow the white minority government. Although the ANC is a multiracial organization, the arrest of white guerrillas is rare.
The ANC sabotage campaign, including attacks on police and black township official, has increased since a nationwide state of emergency was imposed four years ago. About 200 bombings have killed 35 people and injured more than 680.