The funeral service Friday for South Africa's white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche was not marred by violence. Will his burial mark the end of this flare-up in racial tensions between blacks and whites in South Africa?
Cape Town, South Africa
Apartheid-era flags flew again at the funeral of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche today where a large police presence helped deter potential trouble.
The predominantly white crowd in Ventersdorp, South Africa, also sang the old national anthem "Die Stem" inside and outside the church while others held simple wooden crosses with 3,000 written on them – the number of white farmers estimated to have been killed in random attacks since South Africa’s first post-Apartheid elections in 1994.
It was a quiet and dignified end for the controversial Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging party leader, who set up the extremist AWB party in 1973 to fight for a separate Afrikaner homeland. Despite violent threats and a limited but unsuccessful bombing campaign in the early 1990s as F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela negotiated the end of apartheid, Terreblanche was a fringe political figure, say analysts, whose news coverage over inflated his influence.
But his death has raised anew racial tensions within South Africa. Right-wing politicians are blaming the controversial leader of the ruling ANC’s youth league, Julius Malema, for stirring up racial hatred for singing an anti-apartheid song which includes the lyrics “kill the Boer, kill the farmer.”
On Friday, mourners, many of whom wore military-style khaki uniforms or traditional Afrikaner dress, also held the three-legged swastika flags, the emblem of Terreblanche’s AWB party.
There was standing room only in the 700-seater Protestant church where the service took place and an estimated 2,000 people gathered outside but there was no repeat of Tuesday’s confrontation between blacks and whites outside the local magistrates court after the appearance of two males accused of Terreblanche’s murder.