A magistrate sentenced three white members of the outlawed African National Congress to jail terms of 18 to 25 years Friday for terrorism in connection with three bombings and the largest cache of illegal weapons ever seized in South Africa.
"Those who commit violence must be punished. This is inescapable," Pretoria Regional Magistrate W. J. van den Bergh said in sentencing South Africans Damian de Lange, 32; and Iain Hugh Robertson, 36, to 25 and 20 years respectively, and British citizen Susan Donelly, 24, to 18 years.
Robertson, a former schoolteacher, was restrained by police as he shouted "Long live the ANC!" after being sentenced, and supporters in a packed public gallery showered the three with yellow daisies.
Anti-apartheid organizations condemned the length of the sentences as a blow to hopes for racial reconciliation.
The three were among a five-member ANC cell discovered May 8, 1988, during a raid on a farmhouse in the town of Broederstroom near Pretoria, police said. The fourth member evaded arrest while the fifth is thought to have turned state's witness and did not appear at the trial.
Police said a cache of arms found during the raid was the largest consignment of illegal weapons ever seized and included a ground-to-air missile, automatic weapons and hand grenades.
De Lange, a former journalist with the defunct liberal newspaper Rand Daily Mail, and Robertson were convicted of 11 charges of terrorism. Donelly, also a former schoolteacher, was found guilty of 10 charges.
All three pleaded guilty on June 12 to three bomb attacks, including an unsuccessful attempt to blow up a bus carrying soldiers. None of the attacks caused any injuries.
In a separate action Friday, the government lifted restrictions on the political activity of veteran ANC member Govan Mbeki, allowing him to speak publicly for the first time in nearly two years.
Mbeki, 79, former national secretary of the ANC, was released from prison on Nov. 5, 1987, after serving 23 years of a life sentence on charges of plotting with Nelson Mandela to topple the minority white government.
He had been under 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. house arrest in his Port Elizabeth home and had been banned from speaking with the press.