South African Christian Pastor Harry Knoesen was found guilty on June 6 of plotting to overthrow the government and to kill thousands of Black people in the country.
Knoesen, 61, a leader of the National Christian Resistance Movement, was found guilty of high treason, incitement to carry out violence, and recruiting people to commit attacks.
Knoesen’s group researched how to use biological weapons to infect and kill Black people, including the poisoning of water reservoirs supplying Black communities, according to the prosecution, The Huffington Post reported.
The Middelburg High Court in Johannesburg also found Knoesen guilty of unlawful possession of firearms.
In 2019, South Africa’s police and intelligence services foiled the plot by the pastor’s group, which has since been disbanded. Knoesen was arrested in November 2019. Other members of the group were also arrested.
South African prosecutors alleged that Knoesen’s plot was motivated by his “highly racial views” and 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.
Knoesen recruited former members of South Africa’s military to join his movement via Facebook, court papers claimed. In his testimony, Knoesen admitted to sharing “recipes” to manufacture explosives with his followers on Facebook, the Middelburg Observer newspaper reported. He also allegedly used the social media platform to incite violence against Black people.
Knoesen is scheduled to return to court on June 10 for the beginning of sentencing proceedings.
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There have been other racist plots uncovered in South Africa.
In 2013, 20 members of the right-wing white supremacy group known as the Boeremag were sentenced to prison for planning to kill South Africa’s first Black president Nelson Mandela, overthrow the government and kill thousands of Black people, The Washington Post reported.
Boeremag, like Knoesen, was opposed to South Africa’s democracy which ended apartheid, the country’s regime of white minority rule that ended with the first democratic elections in 1994, which elected Mandela president.
Photo: Pastor Harry Knoesen, appears in the Magistrates court, in Middelburg, South Africa, May 10, 2022. 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 found guilty of high treason, incitement to carry out violence, and recruiting people to commit attacks. (AP Photo/Leon Sadiki)