Eugene Terreblanche murder: South African man guilty

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Media caption,

The BBC's Karen Allen says there was a "brief scuffle" outside court as the verdict was read out

One of the two South African farm workers accused of murdering white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche in 2010 has been found guilty.

The court convicted Chris Mahlangu, but acquitted a second accused, Patrick Ndlovu, who was just 15 at the time.

There is tight security outside the court in the north-western town of Ventersdorp.

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

However, the BBC's Karen Allen, who is in Ventersdorp, says fears that the killing could trigger political violence, dividing the country along racial lines, have not been realised.

She says the case has brought to the fore allegations of wage exploitation and a sexual motive, along with claims of a botched police investigation.

Scores of members of Terreblanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement - AWB) wearing military fatigues have set up camp outside court, with their trademark red, white and black, swastika-style flags planted defiantly in the ground, our correspondent says.

Not far away, supporters of the two black farm workers are singing songs from the struggle against white minority rule and the police have set up cordons to keep the two sides apart.

But there have been a few scuffles between the two groups.

Sodomy claim dismissed

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Chris Mahlangu (L) and Patrick Ndlovu (R) had both denied all charges

Both Mahlangu, 29, and Ndlovu, 18, had denied the charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Judge John Horn said there was no evidence that Ndlovu had played an active role in the killing, but he was convicted of housebreaking with intent to steal.

They are due to be sentenced next month.

During the trial, a lawyer for Ndlovu, who has been named for the first time as he was a minor at the time, said he had been subject to "appalling conditions... not fit for human habitation [and] child exploitation" on the farm.

The lawyer said his client had not killed Terreblanche, but had found his body and called the police.

Much of the evidence against the teenager was dismissed because the police did not follow South Africa's child protection law when handling the case.

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

The judge said there was no proof that Terreblanche had raped Mahlangu - allegations raised sometime after the trial had started.

"Sodomy is such a personal intrusion, I can't believe [Chris Mahlangu] would not have raised it immediately," Judge Horn said.

After Terreblanche's death, some members of the local black community called 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. He was found with his underpants pulled down and 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 farm worker.

Some members of Terreblanche's Afrikaner community said his killing highlighted the violence faced by white farmers in South Africa, with some 3,000 said to have been killed since 1994.