Africa

Eugene Terreblanche 'murderers' on trial

A photo taken on June 11, 2004 shows South African white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche during press conference after being released from prison in Potchefstroom. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Eugene Terreblanche spent three years in prison for the 2001 attempted murder of a farmworker

Two black South African farmworkers accused of hacking to death white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche have pleaded not guilty.

Chris Mahlangu, 29, and a 16-year-old boy face charges including murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The pair handed themselves in to police after admitting they had clashed with their employer over pay.

The 2010 killing highlighted South Africa's fragile race relations 16 years after white minority rule ended.

When the pair were arrested, there were clashes between members of the local black community and Terreblanche's supporters in the north-western town of Ventersdorp, where the twice-delayed trial is being held.

Small groups from both sides have again gathered outside the court amid tight security.

Journalists and members of the Terreblanche family are seated in a room linked to the court by closed-circuit television. The media were barred from sitting in the court room because one of the accused is a minor, local reports say.

Scores of police officers have been deployed outside the courthouse.

Uniformed members of Terreblanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement - AWB) milled around a gazebo listening to Afrikaans music playing loudly on a speaker.

On trees around the court, his supporters had hung posters reading The Boer [white farmer] is Here to Stay.

Norman Arendse, the lawyer for the 16 year old who cannot be named, said he had been subject to "appalling conditions... not fit for human habitation [and] child exploitation" on the farm.

Mr Arendse said his client had not killed Terreblanche but had found his body and called the police.

The prosecution said the pair had found Terreblanche asleep and beaten him with a steel pipe.

After Terreblanche's death, some members of the local black community called Mr Mahlangu a "hero" for his alleged role in the killing.

At the time, police said he had been stabbed and beaten with a wooden club. A post mortem report revealed he suffered 28 injuries.

His AWB organisation waged a violent campaign to resist the end of apartheid and the establishment of democratic rule in 1994.

He spent three years in jail after the 2001 attempted murder of a farmworker.

After Terreblanche was killed, some his supporters criticised local political leaders for singing Shoot the Boer - a controversial song sung by the African National Congress (ANC) during its fight against white minority rule.

The Afrikaner community said the song - which has since been banned - was divisive and advocated the murder of Afrikaners.

Some 3,000 white farmers are said to have been killed since the fall of apartheid.

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