Police in South Africa say a notorious white supremacist leader was bludgeoned to death by two of his farm workers in an apparent wage dispute. But his followers have blamed a fiery youth leader for a “hate speech” which they claim led to his killing.
Eugene Terreblanche's violent death on Saturday came amid growing racial tensions in the once white-led country. It underscored an ongoing controversy over ANC Youth Leader Julius Malema's performance last month of an apartheid-era song advocating the killing of white farmers.
Terreblanche (69) was leader of the white supremacist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging movement, better known as the AWB, that wanted to create three all-white republics within South Africa in which blacks would be allowed only as guest workers.
Andre Nienaber, a group member and relative of Terreblanche, said he believed his death was “as a result of Mr Malema's hate speech and direct orders in the media to ‘shoot the Boers (white farmers) dead’.”
Mr Malema is often in the news for his fiery rhetoric. Last month, he led college students in belting out a song that includes the lyrics “shoot the Boer”. Mr Malema did not mention Terreblanche or any other person in his performance.
The song has sparked a legal battle in which the ruling ANC party has challenged a high court which ruled the lyrics were unconstitutional. The ANC insists the lyrics — which also refer to the farmers as thieves and rapists — are not intended literally and are therefore not hate speech.
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa appealed for calm and asked the public not to make assumptions about the crime.
“We call on all South Africans, across whatever divide ... to desist from making any inflammatory statements which are not going to help in any way on the case we are dealing with,” said Mr Mthethwa, who visited the crime scene and later spoke to a room full of journalists and AWB members.
“Nobody should obstruct us by what he or she says pertaining to this case. We want to get to the bottom of this case and we want nobody to obstruct the police in getting justice.”
Relatives and friends of Terreblanche gathered yesterday to pay their respects. Terreblanche's family and the AWB invited the press into one of their homes to hear a brief statement.
South African President Jacob Zuma appealed for calm following “this terrible deed”.
Police spokeswoman Adele Myburgh said Terreblanche was attacked by a 21-year-old man and a boy of 15 who worked on his farm at Ventersdrop, north-west of Johannesburg.
She said they have been charged with murder. She said the two, whom she did not identify, told the police that there had been a dispute because they were not paid for work they had done.