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Saturday, 7 April, 2001, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK
SA funeral fuels anti-racist anger
Mourners carry Tshepo Matloga's coffin
Mourners in South Africa have called for racists to lose their land at the funeral of a black teenager allegedly beaten to death by nine white rugby players.

Leading members of the ruling African National Congress were among a crowd of at least 1,000 mourners at the funeral of 19-year-old Tshepo Matloga in the small town of Ga-Mokgethle in Northern Province. They sang old anti-apartheid songs and raised clenched fists.

Is this not the land of their forefathers? Was it wrong that their skin colour is black?

Tom Boya, funeral organiser
His killing two weeks ago while out hunting rabbits on a farm owned by one of the accused has further fuelled racial tension in rural areas of South Africa.

A bail hearing for the defendants, all Afrikaners and friends from the local rugby club, had to be abandoned earlier in the week when angry crowds overran the courthouse in the northern town of Pietersburg.

There was a strong police presence at the funeral, but although feelings were running high there was no trouble.

Racism exposed

The premier of the Northern Province, Ngoako Ramathlodi, told the crowd Mr Matloga did not die in vain, as his death had exposed the racism that still plagues South Africa.

Tom Boya, the funeral's organiser, said the government should take over farms owned by violent racists.

"Will I be wrong to call for the expropriation of farms that are owned by these racists that beat and kill our people?" Mr Boya said.

"Is this not the land of their forefathers? Was it wrong that their skin colour is black?" he said.

South African policeman
Several racial attacks in South Africa have caused outrage
Mr Matloga is believed to have been killed as he was out hunting for food on the land of one of the accused men.

Police were called to the scene, but they left his body unattended. It later turned up in a crocodile-infested reservoir some 200km (120 miles) away.

An autopsy revealed a cracked skull and broken ribs.

One of Mr Matloga's cousins who was out hunting with him was shot in the leg.

Victims of violence

The BBC's Johannesburg correspondent says the killing is the latest in a series of apparently racially motivated incidents in rural South Africa that has seriously compromised confidence in white police officers and judges.

Maria Matloga mourns her son, Tshepo, who was killed last month
Maria Matloga mourns her son
But white farmers say they are also the victims of violence. More than 30 have been killed in the first two months of this year alone, allegedly by black South Africans.

Analysts say crime and poverty are to blame, but they also point to disputes about the future ownership of land, reminiscent of the conflicts in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The suspects, aged 19 to 34, remain in custody. Their bail hearing was postponed until next Wednesday.

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See also:

30 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa: Racism runs deep
13 Mar 01 | Africa
White SA farmer facing eviction
28 May 99 | South Africa elections
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25 Feb 01 | Africa
Mandela steps into racism row
30 Aug 00 | Africa
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