The trial of twelve black leaders charged under South Africa's Terrorism Act continues in Pretoria -- and looks like becoming a milestone in South Africa's legal history.
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Background: The trial of twelve black leaders charged under South Africa's Terrorism Act continues in Pretoria -- and looks like becoming a milestone in South Africa's legal history.
SYNOPSIS: The trial began at Pretoria's Supreme Court on June 20th, and since then the court-house has been almost constantly surrounded by crowds of anxious blacks. The twelve blacks on trial face the death penalty if the charges of terrorism are proved.
The security forces are keeping a relatively low profile. The don't want to provoke black sympathisers among the crowd into violence at a time when the attention of the world press is focused on the courtroom.
The twelve accused-eleven men and one woman-are alleged to be members, if not actually leaders, if not actually leaders, of the underground African National Congress. They are charged with being members of the Congress' military wing-active during the riots in the African township of Soweto last year.
The trial is the first major terrorist trial in South Africa since the introduction in 1967 of the Terrorism Act. Under the Act, the minimum sentence is five years imprisonment, and the death sentence may be imposed. The list of offences covered by the Act is very long. If any one of these-numerous-offences is proved against the defendant, he is then automatically presumed by the court to be a terrorist. It is up to him to prove otherwise.