Summary:

Harry Johannes Knoesen, 63, a former right-wing extremist pastor, is on trial for organizing terrorist cells to carry out attacks on national key installations and kill as many Black people as possible.

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Knoesen, head of the National Christian Resistance Movement (NCRM)—also known as The Crusaders—is accused of planning to overthrow the South African government. He is on trial for high treason in a case currently taking place in the Mpumalanga High Court.

According to the Middelberg Observer, his trial began at the end of April with the submission of exhibits, including racist videos and sound clips.

In the first video, he faced the camera boldly proclaiming “I fear nothing and no one,” urging far-right movements to join the Crusaders because the movement was anointed by God and was established through divine visions.

In a second video, he explains why he refers to Black people as “dark greens who should be exterminated.”

According to Knoesen, God created the white man in His image with intelligence:

But a copycat entity came to Africa with the intent on engineering the opposite, he found ears, but couldn’t find a head, so he took a ball of shit, slapped on the ears and fitted the shit ball with a locust brain.

And, the only way to “sort out the dark greens, is to wipe them out.”

He lambasted “weak ass whites, including farmer unions and other far-right movements, as “ass-kissers and slapgats for waiting, waiting, waiting for deliverance which will never come”.

In the videos, he claims:

The new South Africa made me the racist that I am.

Harry Johannes Knoesen

He called on followers to break the law and mow down as many Africans as possible because they were only consumed by numbers, which he projected would soar from 50 million to 150 million in eight years, raping, murdering, and torturing minorities.

In another video, “soliciting chuckles from the gallery”, Knoesen likened the ruling African National Congress to a harelip lion with Aids.

He further referred to Africans as “monkey children.”

The court heard that an “insurrection” (or coup d’état) was plotted between December 2018 and 28 November 2019. It is alleged that Knoesen had cells across SA ready to carry out attacks on national key points and kill as many black people as possible.

Coup was intended to send the country into an unimaginable state of panic

According to the court papers, the coup was supposed to be executed at midnight on November 28, 2019. Explosions and the rattling sound of AK-47 assault rifles would send the country into an unimaginable state of panic.

The aim of the planned terrorist activity was to cause destruction to state-owned properties, police stations, and military bases, thereby endangering lives or causing serious injuries or death to black people.

Racists pictured at a white supremacist training camp in South Africa. Image via YouTube.

But the extremist group was not aware that his plans were being tracked by members of the country’s security forces.

Hours before he could push the button for the plan to kick into action, members of the Hawks and Crime Intelligence arrested him at his residence in Middelburg and foiled the planned insurrection.

According to The Daily Maverick, Knoesen has pleaded not guilty to charges of high treason, incitement to carry out terrorist attacks in SA, soliciting support and/or recruiting to carry out terrorist attacks in SA, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Two brothers, Eric and Errol Abrahams, who are serving eight years, and Riana Heymans, were also arrested in November 2019 for their parts in the plot.

Knoesen is a self-professed leader of the NCRM. He had given himself the title of “general.”

One of Knoesen’s fanatical views contained in the indictment and summary of facts is that he explored the possibility of using a biological weapon to infect and kill members of the black population.

This is portrayed in count two of the indictment, which reads that Knoesen posted a voice clip on social media on 16 November 2019 to the following effect:

The Crusaders, NCRM are really close, really close to hitting and governing this country. These murderers, rapists, todures, [sic] and dark rubbish of the earth … therefore are going to die in their many thousands … Stand by me … Influence other [sic] … Use your firearm, walk out of your gate and bring the numbers down. I take responsibility for anything you do under my banner.

Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa explained that the threat from the alleged white supremacist reached its pinnacle at a meeting with select groups on the weekend of 16-17 November 2019 and at another meeting at the Sterkfontein Dam. The final plan was then discussed.

Investigators also found that, before the weekend of 23-24 November that year, the accused is said to have contacted a former member of the security forces to supply him with weapons and ammunition, including AK-47s, hand grenades, and RPG7 rocket launchers. The accused also required assistance with the manufacturing of explosives.

The indictment and summary of facts that is the nub of the State’s case further describe Knoesen as a man who sought to justify his beliefs on religion, claiming that God had ordained that he should reclaim South Africa for white people. These high racial views were his motivation to decide to overthrow the government and indiscriminately kill African people.

To further this end, he planned to attack government institutions and more specifically police and military institutions. He also identified townships and informal settlements occupied by African people as targets for attack. He explored the possibility of using a biological weapon to infect and kill members of the African population.

All hell was meant to break loose at midnight on 28 November 2019 when cells and members of the Crusaders would have unleashed a violent onslaught on the government and black people.

But law enforcement personnel had him on their radar for more than a year and Knoesen was arrested in November 2019. Days later, the Abrahams brothers and Heymans, who ran the Crusaders’ social media, were also arrested.

The charges against Heymans were withdrawn in August 2020. The Abrahams brothers were sentenced to eight years in jail in the Middelburg Regional Court in December 2020 for their roles in the plot.

Now the trio are key witnesses for the State to testify against Knoesen and share with the court details of the plan.

Heymans in a 20-page affidavit set out her own fears and that of the rest of the white community as the reason why she joined the right-wing group.

I believe that being a ‘General’ and being a pastor he would save our people from total poverty and possible death. It is dreadful to live in constant fear, hearing of murders, farm killings, rapes, car hijackings and it was for this reason I bought a revolver from a retired police [sic] around March/April 2019.

Knoesen has since fired his legal team and has told the court that he will conduct his own defense.

It appears that the COVID-19 lock-down measures provided the ideal opportunity to reignite the radical views of white supremacists in the country.

The Daily Maverick added that conspiracies ranged:

From the sublime to the ridiculous, with outrageous videos accusing the South African government of complicity in deliberately contaminating Covid-19 testing kits to the idea that lock-down restrictions were merely a ploy to further marginalise the position of whites and hence quicken the onset of an impending white genocide.

A report released in February by the Counter-Terrorism, Monitoring, Reporting and Support Mechanism maps three local studies where violent right-wing extremism (VRWE) has proliferated significantly—Western Balkans, Turkey, and South Africa.

In the South African context, the report states:

In South Africa, especially compared to the previous two case studies, VRWE is not part of the political mainstream, but it is strongly linked into the international VRWE environment and is driven domestically through fear of government land reform programmes and targeted farm murders.

It is ideologically based in white supremacy and the separation of races, deeply rooted in apartheid policies and Afrikaner nationalism, which seeks to protect the Afrikaner identity and status against other ethnic groups.

OpenDemocracy last year reported that some radical right-wing South African groups had traveled to the US in efforts to expand their organizational networks.

via Bill Dunn of The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)

Veteran journalist and free speech activist Barry Duke was, for 24 years, editor of The Freethinker magazine, the second oldest continually active freethought publication in the world, established by G.W....