South African government appeals for calm after death of white supremacist

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eugene Terreblanche
Image: Anton Raath.

Many of South Africa's major political leaders are urging for calm after the recent murder of a prominent white supremacist leader, Eugene Terreblanche.

Terreblanche was killed last night at his home in South Africa's North West province; police have arrested two males, aged 15 and 21, in connection with the murder. The suspects were workers at Terreblanche's farm who were apparently involved in a wage dispute. Terreblanche died from injuries to his head, apparently from a machete and club.

In response to the killing, South African President Jacob Zuma called the murder "cowardly," and said that it was a "sad moments for our country that a leader of his standing should be murdered." South Africa's Police Minister also asked for calm, saying that "We call on all South Africans across whatever divide—across the racial divide, across the political divide—to desist from making any inflammatory statements."

Despite Zuma's statement, opposition leaders said that his remarks, as well as those from other members of his party, increased tensions in the country. The Afrikaaner Resistance Movement, which Terreblanche led until his death, also called for calm, but said that the party "will decide upon the action we are going to take to avenge Mr Terreblanche's death."

Terreblanche was a prominent figure in South African politics, and had first emerged in the 1980s as leader of a small group who opposed the end of apartheid. Since then, he had been a proponent of creating an exclusively white republic in South Africa. Despite his political views, the ruling African National Congress denied that his murder had been motivated by politics, although Terreblanche's party disputed that claim.