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Can South Africa leaders cool racial tensions after killing of white supremacist?

South Africa leaders are racing to allay concerns about security during the World Cup in June as details of Sunday's killing of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche grab headlines worldwide.

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Passions running high

Democratic Alliance (DA) President, Helen Zille, says that the murder of Terreblanche would inevitably polarize and inflame passions in South Africa at a time when tensions were already running high.

"This could have tragic consequences and it is essential that all leaders stand together now, and call for calm," says Ms. Zille. "Violence has never been a solution to South Africa’s enormous challenges. Now, more than ever, we must resist racial polarization, and continue to build the non-racial middle ground of people who want a peaceful and prosperous future for all."

She said the singing of songs such as “Kill the Boer” by Mr. Malema created a climate in which violence is seen as an appropriate response to problems, whether personal or collective.

"These words have been correctly described by the courts as hate speech," says Zille. "We urge all South Africans to stand together and reject incitement and threats of violence, that could destroy our capacity to build a shared future," she added.

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Playing politics

ANC spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, challenged other political parties not to use the murder of Terreblanch for political mileage.

"We condemn this killing in the strongest terms, because no person deserves to be killed regardless of the reasons that could be advanced in justification of the murder," said Mr. Mthembu. "The ANC views this as a matter to be handled by our law enforcement authorities. We call on all South Africans and all political parties not use Eugene Terreblanche death to polarize our nation."

He said the ANC was appealing to all South Africans to refrain from making speculative pronouncements on Terreblanche murder, pointing out that the alleged killers have handed themselves in to the law enforcement authorities.

Handle with care

"Racism is still much alive in South Africa, and this matter must be handled with care, otherwise racism has a potential of causing bloodshed...." said Temmi Pretoria of the South African Institute of Race Relations representative. "Already the country's image has been battered, and it has to be corrected now."

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