Terrorism accused, Crusaders leader to spend Christmas behind bars

Johannes Knoesen, the self-professed leader of the National Christian Resistance Movement (NCRM) and suspected terrorist, and his co-accused are expected to spend Christmas behind bars after their case was postponed to the new year.

Knoesen, 60, Riana Heyman, 54, together with brothers Eric Abrams, 55, and Errol Abrams, 49, appeared briefly in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court on Monday.

The four NCRM members, also known as the "Crusaders", have been charged for contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act as well as harbouring a wanted suspect in terms of the same act.

READ: Hawks arrest 'Crusaders terrorist movement' leader, discover suspected explosives factory

According to a statement by Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, the four accused would remain in police custody until their next court appearance on January 12, 2020.

News24 previously reported Knoesen, who is a former defence force member and retired pastor, was arrested on terrorism-related charges last Thursday at his Mpumalanga home by the Hawks.

Following his arrest, Heyman and the Abrams brothers allegedly went into hiding but were nabbed by an integrated team consisting of crime intelligence operatives and Hawks members in Kliprivier, Johannesburg, on Friday, Mulaudzi said.

READ MORE: Hawks make more arrests in Crusaders 'terror plot'

In a statement on Friday, Mulaudzi said: "The arrest [of Knoesen] follows a two-year extensive intelligence-led investigation into the alleged terrorist plot apparently co-ordinated by the group to target national key points, shopping malls and informal settlements.

"Various firearms and 5 300 rounds of ammunition of different calibres, documents and other items were confiscated by the criminal record centre for further probing."

The Hawks also believe they have uncovered a possible explosives factory at one of Knoesen's residents in the Eastern Cape.