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South Africa braces for verdict on murder of far right leader

Afrikaners plan to protest as court delivers verdict tomorrow on two black men accused of murdering white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche. Is this the end of the Rainbow Nation?

By Aislinn LaingContributor / May 21, 2012



Johannesburg, South Africa

A judge will announce today his verdict in the trial of two black South Africans accused of beating their employer, the white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche, to death at his remote farm in the country’s North West Province.

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There are fears that the conclusion of the case could reignite simmering racial tensions just as the murder itself did shortly before South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup in June 2010.

At that time, lurid headlines screamed “Murder Could Spark World Cup Race War,” “We’ll Avenge Terreblanche Vow White Fanatics,” and “Dark Clouds Over The Rainbow Nation” - the moniker adopted by South Africa after apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994.

In the end, the sporting event passed without incident. But anger over the ruling African National Congress’ failure to markedly improve life for blacks and whites, and a habit left over from apartheid of blaming each other for the country’s ills, remains.

Terreblanche became famous in the 1980s for his fire-breathing speeches advocating a separate Boer nation. In death, he joined an estimated 3,000 white farmers and their families beaten, tortured, and killed since 1994, mainly by black intruders in raids on their remote homesteads.

South Africa’s crime problem is notorious and many more black people have been killed in that time, but the far right say the brutality of the murders suggest a “genocide” that the state is doing little to prevent.

Underage defendant

During the trial, defendant Chris Mahlangu claimed Terreblanche had sexually assaulted him and he had killed him in self-defence.

The second defendant, who was aged 16 at the time and so cannot be named, is said to have confessed his role in the alleged murder to police.

But Norman Arendse, the teenager’s lawyer, said he is “hopeful and fairly optimistic” that his client will be acquitted at court Tuesday in Ventersdorp, a dusty town almost 90 miles west of Johannesburg.

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