South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche has been killed on his farm in the country’s north-west.
Mr Terreblanche, 69, was beaten to death by two farm workers after a dispute over unpaid wages, police say. Two people have been charged.
President Jacob Zuma has appealed for calm, saying the killing should not incite racial hatred.
Mr Terreblanche, who campaigned for a separate white homeland, came to prominence in the early 1980s.
“Mr Terreblanche’s body was found on the bed with facial and head injuries,” said Natal Police Capt Adele Myburgh. “There was a panga [broad-blade knife] on him and knobkerrie [wooden club] next to the bed.”
Capt Myburgh said Mr Terreblanche had been killed at his home outside the town of Ventersdorp, North West province, after a payment dispute with two workers, aged 21 and 15, who have been arrested and charged with his murder. The murder comes amid growing anxiety about crime in South Africa and what opposition politicians say are irresponsible and racially inflammatory sentiments from a minority of the ruling ANC party, says the BBC’s Karen Allen in Johannesburg.
The incident comes 10 weeks before South Africa hosts the first World Cup football tournament on African soil. A spokesman for Mr Terreblanche’s Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement – AWB) linked the killing to the recent singing of an apartheid-era song by a firebrand ANC leader.
Supporters of South African extremist say killing is a 'declaration of war by the black community'
Terreblanche, the 69-year-old leader of the tiny Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), was battered and hacked to death as he took a nap at his farm at Ventersdorp, 100km from Pretoria, on Saturday afternoon.
Until his dramatic death, South Africans of all races had largely forgotten Terreblanche, the extremist white horseman, who caused such trouble during the end of apartheid in the early 1990s. Yesterday's outbursts by his allies looked mostly like political irresponsibility coupled with a rare chance for marginal politicians to speak out. However, the murder did throw a spotlight on Mr Zuma's perceived lack of authority and, in particular, the behaviour of Terreblanche's black alter-ego Julius Malema, the provocative leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress.
In a rare statement, the President's office appealed for calm. Mr Zuma "condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of Mr Terreblanche or any other South African for that matter," the statement said. "In any dispute no-one is allowed to take the law into their own hands. Irrespective of how his killers think they may have been justified, they had no right to take his life." By last night, all the political parties had reacted, some in terms rarely heard since the dying days of apartheid. Mr Visagie promised "there will be revenge", while the pro-black Azanian People's Organisation claimed that Terreblanche had "died in the same manner in which he killed black defenceless farm workers in Ventersdorp", with spokesman Funani ka Ntontela admitting to a "tinge of suppressed excitement" at his death.
We'll avenge Eugene Terreblanches' murderHe was bitterly opposed to black rule and campaigned for three all-white republics within the country in which black people would be allowed only as guest workers.
Nine years ago he served three years in prison for crippling a black security guard in a savage beating. He claimed he had found religion in jail and lived in relative obscurity until recently returning to politics.
After weeks of growing racial tension in South Africa, Andre Visagie of the AWB, said the killing of his leader was 'a declaration of war' by blacks against whites and warned football teams to avoid the World Cup, which begins on 11 June. The dead leader's supporters who lay flowers outside his house yesterday, blamed his death squarely on firebrand Julius Malema, leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress.