South African White Supremacist Leader Eugene Terreblanche Killed

Ben Quinn, Guardian (London), April 3, 2010

Eugene Terreblanche, the South African white supremacist leader who fought to preserve apartheid in the 1990s, has been beaten and hacked to death at his farm.

A 21-year-old man and a 15-year-old were arrested on Saturday and charged with the murder, which local media reports said they had carried out over an alleged dispute with Terreblanche over unpaid wages.

A police spokesman said that the 69-year-old, who had lived in relative obscurity in recent years, was found in bed with facial and head injuries.

Terreblanche, a former South African policeman who began to rise to prominence during the early 1980s as the leader of the Far-Right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), campaigned in later years for an independent white homeland.

His khaki-shirted followers were a frequent and menacing force against the background of the years of South Africa’s transition from white-dominated government to majority rule. Terreblanche later served three years of a five-year term for attempted murder and was released from prison in 2004.

His murder comes against the backdrop of growing anxiety about crime in South Africa and what opposition politicians claim are racially inflammatory sentiments from some figures in the ruling ANC party.


{snip}

Eugene Terreblanche’s supporters blamed his slaying on a ruling party official’s performances of an apartheid-era song that advocates killing white farmers. Police, however, say it appeared to be a wage dispute that led two of Terreblanche’s farm workers to bludgeon him in his bed Saturday.

South African officials are trying to ward off any rise in racial tensions 10 weeks before their country of about 50 million enters the global spotlight as host of soccer’s World Cup. President Jacob Zuma appealed for calm following “this terrible deed” and asked South Africans “not to allow agent provocateurs to take advantage of this situation by inciting or fueling racial hatred.”

Police Minister Nathi Mthetwa said Terreblanche was attacked by a 28-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, both black. {snip}

Terreblanche, a bearded, charismatic 69-year-old, co-founded and led the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging movement, better known as the AWB, which seeks an all-white republic within mostly black South Africa. {snip}

Terreblanche emerged in the 1970s to the right of South Africa’s apartheid government, and had threatened to take the country by force if white rule ended. He was known to arrive at meetings on horseback flanked by masked bodyguards dressed in khaki or black.

After serving six years in prison for attacking two black workers, he re-emerged in 2004 with renewed vigor for his cause. He lived in relative obscurity in recent years on his farm outside Ventersdorp, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

Andre Visagie, a top AWB member, said Terreblanche’s face had been bludgeoned beyond recognition. He said his group would avenge Terreblanche’s death, but he gave no details.

“The death of Mr. Terreblanche is a declaration of war by the black community of South Africa to the white community that has been killed for 10 years on end,” Visagie said.

He also said the group will urge soccer teams to avoid the World Cup out of safety concerns.

{snip}

Visagie {snip} dismissed the condolences Zuma offered to Terreblanche’s family.

“My message to Jacob Zuma is ‘Why, Mr. President, do you offer your condolences to us if you could’ve repudiated Mr. Malema and prevented the death of Mr. Terreblanche?'”

{snip}

An unknown number of white farmers have been killed since the end of apartheid in 1994, many of them in land disputes. Some critics blame the government’s badly organized land reform program and say corruption is a problem. White farmers have also been accused of killing black farm workers.

Terreblanche’s killing comes amid growing disenchantment among blacks for whom the right to vote has not translated into jobs, better housing or education.

Some consider themselves betrayed by leaders governing Africa’s richest country and pursuing a policy of black empowerment that has made millionaires of a tiny black elite. Millions of blacks remain trapped in poverty, even as whites continue to enjoy a privileged lifestyle.

{snip}

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