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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
Crowds storm SA 'race killing' court
Johannesburg
There is an increasing tension in South Africa
By Jane Standley in Johannesburg

A court in South Africa has had to abandon a bail hearing for nine white rugby playing murder suspects after the court was overrun by angry crowds.

The men are accused of beating a black teenager to death two weeks ago near the northern town of Pietersburg - and of dumping his body in a reservoir. The hearing is set to resume on Friday.

This case and several other apparently racial attacks in rural areas of South Africa have caused outrage.

The nine accused men - all of them Afrikaners and friends from the local rugby club - didn't even have time to ask for bail before they had to be returned to the cells because of the crowd's anger.

Anger

At least 1,000 protestors chanted and sang outside the court in Pietersburg - while the public gallery inside was packed to capacity.

South African policeman
Several racial attacks in South Africa have caused outrage
It is believed that the victim - 19-year-old Tshepo Matloga - was hunting rabbits on one of the accused's farmland when it is alleged he was caught and killed.

A cousin who was with him was shot in the leg and so were five of their dogs.

There's also anger that in this case one of the accused was allegedly allowed to remove the body of the victim from a police station, drive it into another province, and then dump it in a reservoir.

But black South Africans aren't the only victims of the increasing violence and tension in the countryside.

More than 30 white farmers were killed in the first two months of this year - allegedly by black attackers.

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14 Feb 00 | Africa
SA editors face racism questions
28 May 99 | South Africa elections
South Africa's crime crisis
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