'Retaliation may follow Terre'Blanche murder'

By Time of article published Apr 5, 2010

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The killing of South Africa's far-right leader Eugene Terre'Blanche could tempt isolated retaliation from white extremists, amid fears of flaring racial tensions, analysts say.

The attack came as South Africa gets ready to showcase 16 years of democracy at the 2010 Soccer World Cup in June.

ZoopyTV interviewed ordinary South Africans to find out how they felt about Terre'Blanche's murder


President Jacob Zuma was quick to call for calm early on Sunday, just hours after Terre'Blanche's bloodied body was found on his farm.

His extremist Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), which carried out a wave of deadly bombings ahead of South Africa's first elections in 1994, also urged calm.

The AWB, known for its swastika-style emblem and paramilitary style in the past, said it would co-ordinate its reaction at a meeting on May 1.

But some of its members have called for an immediate reprisal.

"The right-wing movement in general is very fragmented," said analyst Dirk Kotze, a specialist in the country's politics, at the University of South Africa.

"We cannot expect something as a general retaliation in terms of big, major events."

But he added: "What might be a possibility is very much isolated, singular events which are very exceptionally difficult to predict."

Aubrey Matshiqi of the Centre for Policy Studies, which describes itself as an independent policy research body, agreed.

"I do not believe this killing takes us closer to racial civil war," said Aubrey Matshiqi of the Centre for Policy Studies.

"He and his organisation were on the fringe not only of South African politics but on the fringe of even what we'd call white or even Afrikaner politics."

Terre'Blanche's radical AWB group have linked his killing to a controversial refrain from a song adopted by the controversial ruling party youth leader Julius Malema: "Shoot the Boer".

Outraged critics claim the slogan, recently banned in two court rulings, incites anti-white violence.

The African National Congress (ANC) has said the song is part of the the history of South Africa's liberation struggle.

Nevertheless, the controversy around the song and now Terre'Blanche's killing had created a delicate situation, said David Bruce, a senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

"The combination of that song and that killing creates the motivation for a white right-wing mobilisation... but potentially, the security agencies will be able to neutralise these kind of things," he said.

"Terre'Blanche could be seen as an embodiment of the kind of enemy described in the song," he said: but the term was also likely to tap into fears of whites, who number 10 percent of the population.

"The term Boer has no strict boundary: it can refer to the white farmers, to the Afrikaners or to the whites in general. That's what makes a lot of people afraid," said Bruce.

"A lot of people see in that song a general endorsement of violence against white people."

Far-right extremism remains a marginalised but shady presence: a marathon treason trial against 21 right-wingers, which started in 2003, is still dragging through the courts.

The government's calls for calm after Terre'Blanche's killing, echoed by opposition parties, was prompted by uncertainty about conservative reaction or retaliation, said Kotze.

"That can ignite, it can serve as a catalyst for much more serious problems."

Zuma on Sunday urged politicians to show unity, saying it was their responsibility to "stay away from statements that might reverse nation building and racial cohesion".

"It is a key test for the leadership of Jacob Zuma: he has to make minority groups feel more secure and to distance himself from Malema," said political analyst Daniel Silke.

"If Zuma shows leadership, then we will avoid retaliation or an escalation of violence." - AFP

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