Tensions rise in SAfrican white supremacist case

April 6: Followers of slain white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche scuffle with police outside the courthouse in Ventersdrop, South Africa.

April 6: Followers of slain white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche scuffle with police outside the courthouse in Ventersdrop, South Africa.  (AP)

Whites and blacks faced off angrily in song in front of a heavily guarded courthouse where a teenager and another farm worker who allegedly confessed to killing a white supremacist leader in a wage dispute appeared Tuesday.

The older of the two suspects was walked out of the courthouse hours later, placed into a police vehicle and driven away. By then, white protesters had left, leaving only hundreds of blacks who screamed, ululated and whistled in support.

"We are celebrating the death of the man who has abused us so much," one woman in the crowd shouted.

The killing of Eugene Terreblanche, a militant leader once convicted of beating a black farm worker so badly the man was left brain damaged, has focused attention on simmering racial tensions less than 10 weeks before South Africa hosts the World Cup.

Police officers rushed to separate nearly 2,000 people split into white and black groups after a middle-aged white woman sprayed an energy drink on blacks singing the Zulu choruses of the country's national anthem. Whites had earlier been singing the parts of the national anthem that are in Afrikaans and that date to the apartheid era.

whites who said they were there to support Terreblanche's family and blacks supporting the family of the 15-year-old suspect and his 28-year-old co-worker.

Authorities say Terreblanche, 69, was bludgeoned to death Saturday in his bed. The 15-year-old's mother told AP Television News that the suspects killed the farmer because he hadn't paid them since December. Police have not identified either of the suspects by name.

Menzi Simelane, a spokesman for the prosecutors, had described Tuesday's hearing as an initial appearance. The results were not immediately announced, but Simelane had said he had expected only the scheduling of a new hearing while investigations continued.

Prosecutors also met informally Tuesday with members of Terreblanche's white supremacist group, community members and the suspect's lawyers to explain recent changes in court procedures when minors are involved.


After calm was restored, Pieter Steyn, the provincial leader of Terreblanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging movement, better known as the AWB, apologized for the woman who sprayed the blacks.

A day earlier, Steyn had retreated from threats made by other militants to avenge Terreblanche's death. Steyn said the AWB renounces violence, and that the earlier threats were made "in the heat to the moment. We have spoken to every one and told them to be calm."

Terreblanche's AWB has blamed African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema for the death, saying his insistence on public performances of an anti-apartheid song that includes lines about killing white farmers was hate speech that led to Terreblanche's killing.

which also speak of white farmers as thieves and rapists — refer to those who supported apartheid and now oppose democracy.

Bomber Matinyane, regional director of the South African National Civic Organization, a civil rights group, equated Malema's song and the display of apartheid-era flags, saying both inflamed racial tensions.

"Malema must stop it and they must stop flying those old flags," Matinyane said outside the courthouse Tuesday.

Blacks outside the courthouse sang other songs from the struggle for majority rule that finally came in 1994 after years of state-sponsored violence by the white minority regime and urban guerrilla warfare waged by the African National Congress.

Brenda Abrams, a 30-year-old black businesswoman who was at the courthouse Tuesday to support the family of the younger accused, said a "big fuss" was being made about Terreblanche's death.

"But nobody says anything when black farmworkers are killed," Abrams said.

AWB members still seek to create an all-white republic within mostly black South Africa. The group's red, white and black insignia resembles a Nazi swastika, but with three prongs instead of four.

The movement always has been on the fringes, estimated to have no more than 70,000 members at its height in the early 1990s out of a population of nearly 50 million.

Terreblanche was sentenced to six years in jail in 2001 for the attempted murder of former security guard Paul Motshabi in March 1996. Terreblanche was released in 2004. Motshabi suffered brain damage, and was left paralyzed and unable to speak for months after the attack.