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South African white supremacist militia leader Mike du Toit and four co-conspirators were sentenced after a 10-year trial.
Mike du Toit, the white supremacist militia leader who plotted to assassinate South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Tuesday.
Four other members of his militia, Boeremag, were also sentenced to 35 years in jail. Another 15 members received lesser jail sentences of between 10 and 30 years.
The militia members range in age from 32 to 74.
In 2002, the group planted a landmine along a road Mandela was supposed to travel on, witnesses testified during the case. However, the plot failed when Mandela ended up flying to his engagement by helicopter.
"They almost succeeded. It was extremely close," head investigator Tollie Vreugdenburg told Agence France-Presse.
Boeremag members also carried other acts of violence, like nine bombings in the South African province of Gauteng in October 2002. One woman was killed in those bombings, which also injured dozens.
The Boeremag – Afrikaans for "Boer Force", a reference to the descendants of the first Dutch colonisers – had planned to sow chaos through bomb blasts.
They then intended to take over military bases, replace the government with white military rule and chase all blacks and Indians from the country.
Du Toit, 52, was the first person to be convicted of treason in South Africa since white minority rule ended in 1994.
The 10-year trial has been one of the longest-running and most expensive trials in South African legal history, in part because nearly 200 people gave evidence for the state.
In 2006, two of the defendants escaped during a recess and eluded capture for months before being found.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.