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South Africa leaders visit Eugene Terreblanche family

An AWB supporter brings flowers to the gate of Eugene Terreblanche's property near Ventersdrop, west of Johannesburg, South Africa, 4 April 2010
Friends of Mr Terreblanche mourned his death on Sunday

South African leaders have visited the family of white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche to pay their respects after he was killed on Saturday.

North West province premier Maureen Modiselle passed on the government's sympathies, while an opposition leader also travelled to the family farm.

There was heavy security for the visit, amid fears of rising racial tensions.

President Jacob Zuma has appealed for calm, while some of Mr Terreblanche's supporters have vowed revenge.

Police say that two of Mr Terreblanche's farm workers have admitted killing the leader of the AWB party in a pay dispute.

Some members of his party have blamed ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema for inflaming the situation, after he recently sang a song about killing white farmers.

Mr Terreblanche, 69, was fiercely opposed to the end of apartheid in South Africa. It led to the ANC winning the country's first democratic elections in 1994 and Nelson Mandela becoming the country's first black president.

Hate speech

Mr Terreblanche is to be buried on Friday, his family reportedly told Ms Modiselle.

TERREBLANCHE: KEY DATES
Eugene Terreblanche in Pretoria in June 2004
1941: Born on farm in Transvaal town of Ventersdorp
1973: Co-founds AWB to protect rights of Boers' descendants
1993: AWB vehicle smashes into World Trade Centre in Jo'burg during talks to end apartheid
1994: AWB invades tribal homeland of Bophuthatswana and is defeated; three AWB men die
1998: Accepts moral blame for 1994 bombings that killed 21
2001: Jailed for attempted murder of farm-worker
2004: Released from prison

"As government we are calling for calm and respect of the law, especially here in this region," her spokesman, David Sengiwe, quoted her as telling the family.

"We are encouraging people not to take the law into their own hands."

A crowd of mourners gathered at the farm near the town of Ventersdorp.

Mosiuoa Lekota, leader of the opposition Cope party, also visited the Terreblanche home.

A veteran of the fight against apartheid, he condemned Mr Malema's singing of the "Shoot the Boer" song.

Following complaints by Afrikaner groups, this was recently banned as hate speech by a South African court, although the ANC says it will appeal.

Boer is Afrikaans for a farmer, but is sometimes used as a disparaging term for any white person in South Africa.

Mr Malema is due to return from Zimbabwe later in the day, and correspondents say his response to calls for calm is keenly awaited.

Mr Zuma was quick to condemn the attack amid criticism that he had failed to rein in the ANC Youth League.

The president went on television on Sunday to condemn what he said was a "cowardly" murder.

He said he had spoken to Mr Terreblanche's daughter.

"This is one of the sad moments for our country that a leader of his standing should be murdered," said Mr Zuma.

The AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, or Afrikaner Resistance Movement) echoed Mr Zuma's call for calm.

Violent country

But the far-right movement's secretary general, Andre Visagie, said Mr Terreblanche's killing had political overtones.

"The next step for the AWB will be to bury their leader in peace, but thereafter we shall avenge the death of our leader," he told the BBC.

Julius Malema, file pic
The AWB accuses Julius Malema of inflammatory actions

"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."

More than 3,000 white farmers are estimated to have been murdered since the end of apartheid in 1994.

A committee of inquiry found in 2003 that only 2% of farm attacks had a political or racial motive, although critics said this figure was far too low.

Others point out that some 50 people, mostly black, are killed every day in South Africa - a country with one of the world's highest rates of violent crime.

Mr Terreblanche had founded the white supremacist AWB in 1973, to oppose what he regarded as the liberal policies of the then-South African government.

His party threatened civil war in the run-up to South Africa's first democratic elections, before sliding into relative obscurity.

Mr Terreblanche served three years in jail after being convicted in 2001 of the attempted murder of a farm worker.



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SEE ALSO
Calm urged after S Africa killing
04 Apr 10 |  Africa
Obituary: Eugene Terreblanche
04 Apr 10 |  Africa
SA's Terreblanche freed from jail
11 Jun 04 |  Africa
Terreblanche challenges SA arrest
23 Aug 04 |  Africa
Afrikaner extremist surrenders
30 Mar 00 |  Africa



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