The murder of South Africa’s extreme right-wing leader Eugene Terreblanche has raised mixed emotions across the country.
Police have charged two black people amid claims the farmer was killed in a row over unpaid wages. But Terreblanche’s Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) – a marginal party with a small but loud voice – says it is just the latest sign of a rising tide of violence against whites.
South Africa is experiencing regular attacks against white farmers and landowners, according to minority rights activist Alana Bailey.
“We feel that it’s high time that murders on farms should come to an end, but also all other crimes in South Africa,” she said. “We feel that there is a lot of polarisation here in South Africa at the moment and statements by Mr Malema are not helping.”
Julius Malema is the man being blamed by many for stoking crimes against whites by singing an apartheid-era song with the words “kill the Boer”.
The ANC youth leader has defended the song as no more than a way to remember South Africa’s history of oppression.
Trade Union leader Patrick Craven says the country’s racial intolerance problems were not created by the song’s lyrics.
“We also reject the argument, the simplistic argument, that this can be linked to the issue of ANC struggle songs,” he said. “There is no evidence so far that there is the slightest connection and we shouldn’t allow that debate to get confused with this one, which would appear to be a straightforward law-and-order crime issue.”
President Jacob Zuma has already appealed for calm in the wake of the killing. But white-on-black violence is not a top government priority. Aware of widespread disgruntlement, Zuma has been actively trying to boost his popularity among poor white Afrikaners and talk up his plans for the country’s economic and social reform.
South Africa has also been attracting tens of thousands of people from Zimbabwe and its neighbouring states, because of its relative economic stability.
But the fight for a share of the resources is shaping up to be the real battleground among the country’s black population.