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Racist leader's murder rattles South Africa
Terreblanche once vowed to lead race war
Peter Goodspeed, National Post
Published: Tuesday, April 06, 2010
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Eugene Terreblanche, the notorious leader of a neo-Nazi-style political movement in South Africa, was killed on Saturday.
South Africa braced for a possible wave of racial violence yesterday after the weekend murder of Eugene Terreblanche, the notorious leader of the neo-Nazi-style Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement or AWB).
The former policeman who demanded a whites-only republic had once vowed to lead an apocalyptic race war to prevent black majority rule.
In the end, his followers staged a brief but abortive armed rebellion in 1994 in which nearly 100 people died. Terreblanche was sentenced to six years in prison in 2001 for the attempted murder of a black farm worker and the savage beating of a black gas station service attendant, whom he left permanently brain damaged.
On Saturday, Terreblanche was beaten and hacked to death while he slept in his Ventersdorp farm, just north of Pretoria.
His murder is believed to be linked to a pay dispute involving two black farm hands. It came as South Africa struggles with controversy over African National Congress Youth leader Julius Malema's singing an anti-apartheid war song that urges people to "shoot the Boer ... shoot the farmer."
A South African court recently ruled the song is tantamount to "hate speech."
Yesterday, Andre Visagie, the AWB secretary-general, called Terreblanche's death a "declaration of war by the black community" and vowed to seek revenge. He also warned foreigners not to attend the World Cup of soccer in South Africa this summer.
"You are sending your soccer teams to a land of murder," he said. "Don't do that if you don't have sufficient protection for them."
The hint of possible violence echoes the sort of threats Terreblanche made regularly in the 1980s and 1990s when he led the AWB.
The short, stocky bearded leader surrounded himself with hero-worshipping, brown-shirted and jack-booted "Storm Falcons," who wore red, white and black arm bands and waved a Nazi-like flag based on a logo of three 7s pivoting round each other in a circle.
His rallies were filled with stiff-arm salutes, hysteria, hatred and promises of violence to protect the privileges and power apartheid gave South Africa's whites.
Few ever took Terreblanche and the AWB seriously politically. But they represent a potentially violent fringe.
In 1979, Terreblanche and some supporters were charged with assault for tarring and feathering a Pretoria university professor who ridiculed Afrikaner nationalist claims of a covenant with God.
In the 1980s, Terreblanche received a suspended sentence for burying weapons on a Transvaal farm.
At about the same time, two of his closest supporters were jailed for 15 years for plotting to blow up multi-racial hotels in South Africa, to plant bombs in the president's council chambers, to assassinate black politicians and clergymen and to release syphilis-infected mice at the multi-racial Sun City holiday resort.
Later, as apartheid began to crumble, the AWB tried to derail the country's first all-race elections.
Terreblanche and his followers stormed Johannesburg's World Trade Centre to disrupt negotiations on the post-apartheid constitution. They also claimed responsibility for several bomb attacks that killed about a dozen bystanders.
In 1994, AWB members attacked Johannesburg's main airport and briefly invaded the apartheid-era black homeland of Bophuthatswana.
Nearly 100 black soldiers and civilians died in that clash, which ended abruptly when the AWB retreated after the Bophuthatswana Defence Force summarily executed three AWB members, in front of television cameras.
In the wake of Terreblanche's murder, Jacob Zuma, the South African President, has appealed for calm, asking both black and white South Africans "not to allow agents provocateurs to take advantage of this situation by inciting or fuelling racial hatred."
Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=2767031#ixzz0kKR1we4y