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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Boesak in jail
Allan Boesak of South Africa
Boesak's supporters carried him on their shoulders
The veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner and clergyman Allan Boesak has begun a three-year jail term for fraud and theft involving $400,000 of donor funds.

I go to prison this morning knowing that I am innocent

Mr Allan Boesak
The 53-year-old former senior member of the ruling African National Congress was accompanied by his wife Elna and three of his children as he completed documents for his surrender at Bellville police station.

A crowd of supporters, including the provincial leader of the ANC, Ebrahim Rasool, carried Boesak on their shoulders as he arrived.

He was then driven away to the famous Pollsmoor prison where Nelson Mandela spent some of his 27 years of jail.

Is this the price we paid for our freedom?

Boesak supporter
"I never intended to let anyone down and I don't believe I have let anyone down," Boesak said at the prison.

"I go to prison this morning knowing that I am innocent," he added.

Hero's welcome

At the prison, dozens of his supporters displayed posters and marched down the street singing freedom songs, in a scene reminiscent of the days when anti-apartheid activists demonstrated against the white minority government.

Rev Dr Boesak and wife Elna
The fallen hero of the anti-apartheid movement was accompanied by his wife Elna
"Is this the price we paid for our freedom?" read one poster.

"We still believe Allan is innocent," said one prison official.

The crowd, including the prison guards, gave him a hero's welcome as he walked into the prison. In a brief address to the crowd he called on his supporters to remain positive.

"Please remember: We have struggled for a very long time. The struggle must not be in vain," he said.

"I do not want you to despair. I do not want you to be angry. I do not want you to lose hope at all, " he added


Boesak was still protesting his innocence as he entered jail after an appeals court on Friday upheld his convictions on three charges of stealing aid money donated to his Foundation for Peace and Justice.

He said that his organisation was a front for the ANC and other groups fighting against the then minority government.

He said the money was used to help the anti-apartheid organisations including the payment of legal fees, and he accused Scandinavian donors of betraying him at the trial.

Mr Boesak said he would launch an appeal with the Constitutional Court.

Prison officials said he would be eligible for parole in December 2001 and Mr Boesak said he hoped to study, read and, if allowed, to write.

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24 Mar 99 | Africa
Anti-apartheid hero jailed
22 Mar 00 | Africa
Fire guts Boesak's house
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