WORLD NEWS

Pastor in South Africa found guilty of treason, racist plot

Jun 6, 2022, 11:27 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 10:58 am
(FILE) - Courtroom (Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)...
(FILE) - Courtroom (Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African court has convicted a pastor of plotting to overthrow the government and to kill thousands of Black people in the country.

Harry Johannes Knoesen, 61, a leader of the National Christian Resistance Movement, was on Monday found guilty of high treason, incitement to carry out violent attacks, and recruiting people to commit attacks.

Knoesen’s group explored the possibility of using a biological weapon to infect and kill Black people, including the poisoning of water reservoirs supplying Black communities, according to the prosecution.

Knoesen was also found guilty of unlawful possession of firearms by the Middelburg High Court. Weapons and ammunition were found when he was arrested in Middelburg, a small town in the eastern Mpumalanga province.

The plot by the pastor’s group was foiled in 2019 by South Africa’s police and intelligence services, who have since dismantled the organization’s cells across various parts of the country and arrested some of its leaders.

Knoesen was convicted on evidence from witnesses including members of his group who are already serving jail sentences after they were convicted of similar crimes.

The state alleged that Knoesen’s plot was motivated by his “highly racial views” and that he sought to justify his beliefs on religious grounds, claiming that he was ordained to “reclaim South Africa for white people.”

“To further this end, he planned to attack government institutions and more specifically police and military institutions,” Monica Nyuswa, a spokeswoman for the National Prosecuting Authority, told The Associated Press.

He also identified townships and informal settlements occupied by Black South Africans as targets for attack, she said.

Knoesen allegedly used social media platform Facebook to incite violence against Black people and to recruit former members of South Africa’s military to join his movement and to carry out the planned attacks. These were foiled when he was arrested in November 2019 and the cells in various parts of the country were dismantled.

In his testimony, Knoesen admitted to sharing “recipes” to manufacture explosives with his followers on Facebook, according to the Middelburg Observer newspaper.

This is not the first racist, treasonous plot to be uncovered in South Africa.

In 2013, 20 members of the right-wing white supremacy group known as the Boeremag were sentenced to prison for plotting to kill South Africa’s first Black president Nelson Mandela, overthrow the government and kill thousands of Black people.

They were handed sentences ranging from five to 35 years following a 10-year treason trial, one of the longest in the country’s history.

That group, like Knoesen’s, was opposed to South Africa’s democracy which brought an end to apartheid, the country’s regime of white minority rule that ended with the first democratic elections in 1994 which elected Mandela president.

Knoesen is expected back in court on June 10 for the beginning of sentencing proceedings.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between W...
Ben Morse and Wayne Sterling, CNN

Iran wants US team out of 2022 World Cup after it changes Iran flag on social media

Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran's flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
23 hours ago
Police officers block Shanghai's Urumqi Road on Sunday. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)...
CNN's Beijing bureau and Nectar Gan

Protests erupt across China in unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy

Protests erupted across China throughout the weekend, including at universities and in Shanghai where hundreds chanted "Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!"
23 hours ago
KHERSON, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 24: A man looks at smoke rising from a Russian strike in the Kherson sh...
SAM MEDNICK and JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

Civilians escape Kherson after Russian strikes on freed city

Fleeing shelling, civilians have streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier.
23 hours ago
Monkeys eating various foods on a table....
TIAN MACLEOD JI Associated Press

Monkeys in central Thailand city mark their day with feast

A city in central Thailand has served a meal fit for monkeys. Rows of monkey statues holding trays were lined up Sunday outside the compound of the Ancient Three Pagodas in Lopburi while volunteers prepared food across the road for real monkeys _ the symbol of Lopburi province. Throngs of macaque monkeys ran around at times fighting with each other while the crowds of visitors and locals grew. As the carefully prepared feast was brought toward the temple, the ravenous creatures began to pounce and were soon devouring the largely vegetarian spread. The festival is an annual tradition in Lopburi and is held as a way to show gratitude to the monkeys for bringing in tourism.
23 hours ago
A crowded airport security....
Forrest Brown, CNN

What travel warnings do other nations give their citizens about US violence?

But have you ever wondered how other countries' governments caution their citizens about coming to the United States? What kind of reputation does America have?
23 hours ago
A stadium is filled with people with the Croatia and Canada flags on the field. Fireworks start the...
Ben Church, CNN

World Cup soccer fans stopped by security officials for wearing rainbow-colored items

On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by security officials at Qatar 2022 to remove the rainbow-colored items that they were wearing as they made their way to watch the World Cup match between France and Denmark on Saturday.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Pastor in South Africa found guilty of treason, racist plot