A specialised unit of South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – better known as the Hawks – have cracked an alleged terrorist plot, arresting the ‘mastermind’ in Mpumalanga on Thursday.
Collaboration between the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation’s Crimes Against The State (CATS) squad and National Crime Intelligence led to a breakthrough in the two-year-long investigation.
Raids conducted in Middleburg led to the arrest of 60-year-old, Harry Johannes Knoesen – leader of the National Christian Resistance Movement (NCRM), also known as the ‘Crusaders’. Simultaneous operations at Knoesen’s secondary residence in the Eastern Cape uncovered damning evidence of a terrorism plot.
What we know about the alleged terrorist plot
The Hawks have confirmed that raids on Knoesen’s properties revealed proof of a nationwide sabotage plot. It’s reported that law enforcement agencies operating in the Eastern Cape uncovered:
- An explosives factory
- Electronic detonation devices
- Documents pertaining to national keypoints, shopping malls and informal settlements
- An unlicensed firearm and ammunition
Knoesen, now in police custody, faces serious charges related to the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorism and Related Activities (POCDATARA). Knoesen is expected to appear in court on Monday.
Who is Harry Johannes Knoesen?
Harry Knoesen / Image supplied by Hawks
Harry Knoesen is no stranger to controversy and has been on law enforcement’s radar for quite some time. The retired military man and self-professed pastor, is better known for propagating racially charged rhetoric via social media. In the past, Knoesen has released a series of controversial videos in which he calls for white South Africans to take up arms and declare war on the black majority.
Knoesen also confirmed that he was ‘in discussion’ with other ‘resistance movements’, saying:
“It’s important for us to stay together as a white nation. I know there are many movements. I met with some of the leaders around the table and we sat and we spoke, and halfway into speaking I told them we’re not on the same page. The reason being they want to defend and see what happens.
Reality is, you cannot wait to see what the enemy does to you. You cannot wait for the enemy to wake up. It’s too late already. The Crusaders haven’t got a waiting plan, we’ve got an attack plan.”
Following the release Knoesen’s videos, leader of the now-defunct Black First Land First movement in Mpumalanga, Elias Makwana, laid charges of incitement to violence, high treason and crimen injuria against the head of the Crusaders.
Knoesen is an unapologetic supporter of apartheid and has, on more than one occasion, claimed to have been ‘called upon by God to defeat the devil that has stolen from whites’.