Two black farm workers have gone on trial accused of murdering South African white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche.
Defence lawyer Norman Arendse said Chris Mahlangu, 29, and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named because of his age, had been physically abused by him.
He said witnesses were afraid to speak about "appalling" conditions for workers on Mr Terreblanche's farm.
Mr Terreblanche co-founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) that seeks an all-white republic within South Africa. He had faded into obscurity before his death in April, 2010.
A few white supremacists gathered outside the courthouse in Ventersdorp, north-west of Johannesburg, as the trial began.
Mr Terreblanche was hacked to death with an axe at his farm outside the town, the prosecution say the pair killed him in a dispute over wages.