PRETORIA, South Africa (Reuters) -- South African hardline apartheid-era police minister Adriaan Vlok and four police officers received suspended sentences on Friday after pleading guilty to attempting to murder a leading black activist in 1989.

The accused pleaded guilty to attempting to murder anti-apartheid activist and cleric Frank Chikane, now adviser to President Thabo Mbeki, by lacing his underwear with poison. The poison attacked his nervous system, making him violently ill.