In Pretoria Supreme Court on 20 June 1973 four South Africans and two white foreigners were sentenced to a total of seventy-seven years’ imprisonment for offences under the Terrorism Act. Theophilus Cholo (aged 24), Gardner Kitchener Sejaka (30), Justus Mpanza (34) and Petrus Aaron Mtembu (37) were each sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment; Alexandre Moumbaris (34), a naturalized Australian, to twelve years; and Sean Hosey (23), an Irish citizen, to
The indictment contained a total of nineteen charges, in each of which one or more of the accused were named. All, except Hosey, were alleged to have conspired with one another, with the ANC and with twenty-nine other named people to instigate violent revolution in South Africa. They were alleged to have secretly agreed to bring arms, ammunition and explosives into South Africa and to train people in South Africa in ‘warfare and subversion’.In count two Theophilus Cholo, Justus Mpanza, Petrus Mtembu and Gardner Sejaka were alleged to have had military and political training in African countries and in the Soviet Union between 1962 and June 1972.
In counts three to six Alexandre Moumbaris was alleged to have harboured, concealed or helped terrorists, or alternatively to have taken part in terrorist activities. He was said to have assisted people to enter South Africa from Swaziland and Botswana in June and July 1972.
Moumbaris was accused on five further counts, including having pamphlets published by the ANC distributed in Durban, on 26-27 June 1968, and reconnoitring the Transkei to find places suitable for seaborne landings. Cholo, Mpanza, Mtembu and Sejaka were alleged to have boarded a motor yacht, Avventura, with arms, ammunition and explosives in Somalia with intent to land secretly on the Transkei coast (the yacht had developed engine trouble and did not complete the journey); to have secretly entered South Africa from Swaziland and to have brought into South Africa false reference books and materials for establishing secret communications.
Gardner Sejaka was also accused of having explained to people in the Transkei how to make incendiary bombs in August 1972.
Sean Hosey was accused of having had ANC pamphlets distributed in Cape Town in August 1971 and of trying to give Justus Mpanza and Petrus Mtembu false reference books, tax receipts and R.540 in cash.
Theophilus Cholo, Justus Mpanza, Petrus Mtembu and Gardner Sejaka were found guilty on all counts on which they were charged. Moumbaris was found guilty on nine counts, but acquitted on the grounds of a technicality on count one, and Sean Hosey was found guilty of possessing forged passes but acquitted on the charge of distributing ANC pamphlets.
Fifty-three State witnesses were called during the ninety-eight-day trial, the longest since the Rivonia trial in 1963. The six accused all gave evidence in their own defence. Only one other defence witness was called. Several of the accused made allegations of torture. Theophilus Cholo said that he had been struck repeatedly by security police and this assault had caused him to have weakened sight. painful ears and a blocked nose for three months. Security police had stepped on his feet, crushing the nails of both big toes.
Counsel for Alexandre Moumbaris said that he had attempted to commit suicide as a result of the way in which he had been treated. Counsel for Sean Hosey said that he had been questioned almost continuously for seventy-two hours and was kicked, given a drugged cigar and threatened with a gun.
Leaving the court after the passing of sentence, the four Africans accused gave clenched fist salutes to a crowded public gallery.
From “Racism and apartheid in southern Africa - a book of data prepared by the Anti-Apartheid Movement” – The Unesco Press, Paris 1974, - found on the Web at ttp://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0001/000122/012289eo.pdf.
This article was published in Paris for the Anti-Apartheid Movement in 1974. The London Recruits involved are Alex Moumbaris and Sean Hosey. Alex's French wife Marie-José Moumbaris was not tried, having been released after going on hunger strike, being very badly treated whilst pregnant, and due to public pressure in her native France.