Byline: Refeloe Letsoisa

28 September 2022

Middelburg High Court has sentenced a leader of the National Christian Resistance Movement, a right-wing organization, Harry Johannes Knoesen (63) to two life terms and twenty-one years imprisonment for terrorism-related offences.

Knoesen was convicted of a contravention of preparing and planning to carry out terrorist attacks, incitement to carry out a terrorist attack in South Africa, soliciting support/recruitment of persons to carry out terrorist attacks in South Africa, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

He further declared unfit to possess a firearm, as part of the sentence.

Knoesen made an application for leave to appeal against his sentence and conviction and it was dismissed.

Knoesen was charged together with the Abrams brothers, Errol and Eric, who pleaded guilty to the crimes and were sentenced.

It is said that during the period December 2018 to 28 November 2019, Knoesen developed a deep-rooted hatred, for the non-profit racial democratic dispensation, established under the auspices of the Constitution and implemented by the South African government and for South African persons residing in the Republic, be they South African Citizens or members of émigré communities.

It was further stated that he sought to justify his beliefs on religious grounds, claiming that God had ordained that he should re-claim South Africa for white people.

Allegations state that these highly 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 persons as targets for attack.

To further these objectives, he took over the National Christian Resistance Movement (NCRM), also known as the Crusaders (NCRM), and appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief, giving himself the rank of General.

He explored the possibility of using a biological weapon, to infect and kill members of the African population.

He also had discussions regarding arranging training in urban warfare.

The police had however become aware of his activities, and on 28 November 2019, he was arrested.

Documentation relevant to the planning of the attacks, and information relating to the members of the organization and their cells were also found.

Digital devices were also seized, including weapons and ammunition, the accused pleaded not guilty to the crimes and the state led evidence of various witnesses including the evidence of his social media administrator, who arranged the plenary meetings.

This includes the evidence of audio clips and videos he made on social media, as well as the testimony of a digital forensic investigator.

The court found him guilty on all counts and was sentenced accordingly.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in Mpumalanga Adv. Nkebe Kanyane acknowledges the sterling work done by the team hoping that it will serve as a deterrent.