Mangaung bomb plot exposed
A right wing plot to bomb one of the ANC’s conference tents has been scuppered by police.
Seven alleged terrorists were nabbed today in the Free State, Northern Cape and Limpopo by a joint task team of the Hawks and crime intelligence.
They were allegedly planning to blow up one of the big plenary tents used for the ANC’s 53rd national elective conference.
The police arrested them in Bloemfontein, Douglas in the Northern Cape and Mookgophong in Limpopo. The arrests by the joint task team followed weeks of investigation by the police.
City Press has reliably been told that one of the alleged right wing plotters has made an admission of guilt before a magistrate.
The Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court also issued search warrants for the police to raid a house owned by one of the suspects in Bainsvlei, Bloemfontein.
It is expected that the seven suspects will appear on a charge of high treason in the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court soon.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he was “not aware” of the bomb threat.
“It is good they did not make us aware. This way the conference has continued without disruption. It is a good thing they have been arrested. We have ANC members, journalists, priests and ambassadors here. It would have been terrible if anything had happened.”
Security was tightened around the conference, with a visible police presence and security officials on the campus of the University of the Free State today.
On Saturday, delegates were informed that their vehicles would only be allowed on campus after they were accredited at the nearby Tempe Military Base.
Vehicles were checked, provided with accreditation stickers and escorted by police to the campus.
No unaccredited vehicles are allowed on the university’s campus and delegates go through at least three layers of security before they reach the main plenary tent. Similar security measures were put in place at previous ANC gatherings.
At the party’s 2007 Polokwane congress, journalists and delegates were made to park outside the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus and enter on foot.
Only accredited vehicles that had been searched were allowed inside. At the party’s policy conference at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand in June, there were mobile X-ray scanners vetting vehicles as they entered.
Several roadblocks on routes to Bloemfontein were reported.
SA Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Phuti Setati said he could not discuss details of their security operation.
“The mandate of the SAPS is to ensure that law and order is maintained, and that the event goes ahead smoothly,” he said.
City Press reported last week that crime intelligence was sending a large group of police spies to Mangaung.
- Kaydene Jordaan, with additional reporting by Carien du Plessis and Paddy Harper