Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 16:54 UK

South Africa face-off at Eugene Terreblanche hearing


ANC supporters taunted white right-wing supremacists of the AWB

Black and white South Africans have scuffled outside a court building as two farm workers were charged with the murder of a white supremacist leader.

Police stepped in to stop the face-off between people from the local black community and supporters of Eugene Terreblanche, found dead on Saturday.

Officers built a barricade from razor wire to keep the two groups apart in the north-western town of Ventersdorp.

The killing has raised racial tensions in the country.


But the authorities have played down any political motive to the killing, and police said the pair had admitted beating Terreblanche to death in a dispute over unpaid wages.

Pumza Fihlani
Pumza Fihlani
BBC News, Ventersdorp

Hundreds of AWB flags are flying and Afrikaner nationalist songs are playing as hundreds of Afrikaners protest outside the court.

Some 200 police officers have formed a human barricade around the court. There is a smaller group from the local black community.

Tension fills the air as both groups begin to sing songs linked to their race - Afrikaners singing the old national anthem - the black group responded with anti-apartheid songs.

Many Afrikaners say the murder is proof of a "siege" against farmers in South Africa. There are placards in green and red ink, some accusing former President FW de Klerk of "selling out Afrikaners" to the blacks, referring to his partnership with Nelson Mandela to end apartheid.

The suspects, aged 28 and 15, did not enter a plea but face four charges, including murder, housebreaking with intent to rob, attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and crimen injuria - assaulting the dignity of the victim.

"After they assaulted the deceased, they pulled down his pants and exposed his private parts," said chief prosecutor Menzi Simelane.

Terreblanche's paramilitary group AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement) had threatened to take revenge for the killing, but retracted their threat on Monday.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Ventersdorp says about 500 people gathered outside court - divided equally between white supremacists, local black residents and the police.

Pushing, shoving and scuffles broke out after a woman in the crowd of AWB supporters appeared to throw a drink at a group of black people.

The police stepped in and coiled razor wire between the two groups to keep them apart.

Inciting to kill?

Pieter Steyn, an AWB leader, apologised for the drink-throwing incident.

He had earlier reiterated that the AWB was not a violent group.


"As soon as the court proceedings are completed, we will all disperse and go home and gather again on Friday for the funeral," he told AFP news agency.

The group blames ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema for contributing to the killing by recently singing a song from the anti-apartheid struggle called "Shoot the Boer".

Boer is an Afrikaans word for farmer, which has become a derogatory term for all white people.

Mr Malema has denied any responsibility for Terreblanche's death and the ANC argues that the song does not incite people to kill but is part of the country's history and the fight against white minority rule.

It is planning to appeal against a court judgement banning the song as hate speech.

President Jacob Zuma has appealed for calm and condemned the killing.

Past conviction

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

An AWB supporter
The police had to prevent scuffles from escalating

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

Court papers identified one of those suspected of his murder as 28-year-old Chris Mahlangu.

Because the other suspect is classed as a minor, his identity is not being released and the case is being held behind closed doors.

The pair are due to appear in court again on 14 April.

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Obituary: Eugene Terreblanche
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