Dark times for White Supremacy in South Africa

Brutal murder of extreme Nationalist leaves Afrikaners feeling even more embattled.

Eugene Terreblanche 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Eugene Terreblanche 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The brutal slaying of South Africa’s long-time bête noire and chiefwhite supremacist, Afrikaner extreme right leader Eugene Terreblanche,at the hands of his black farm hands, could not have occurred with moresinister timing, coming at the height of a campaign by the head of theANC Youth League, an outspoken and powerful black politician, fightingfor his right to publicly sing a famous anti-Apartheid struggle songcalled “Shoot the Boer.”
Terreblanche, 69, far from going out the way he always said he would, on his feet and in battle with the enemies of his Volk (people), wasn’t shot in a gunbattle. He was first beaten to a pulp by a knopkierie(an African club with a large knob on one end used to smash skulls) andthen hacked to pieces by a machete. And he wasn’t on his feet; he waslying in bed, taking a nap.
With the controversy of the song“Shoot the Boer” ringing across the land, even though the highest courtin the land forbade it, Terreblanche was cut down in what his followerscan only see as a brutal vindication of his racist positions.
Hadhe been given the chance to comment on his own demise, Terreblanche,whose name in French translates to “White Land” would have probablysaid, “See, I told you so.”
Modeling everything from the symbolof his flag to his own oratory style and wardrobe on Hitler’s Naziparty, Terreblanche made a career out of dehumanizing blacks, warninghis white Afrikaner followers of the Black Danger, the barbarian at thegates, the beast that was coming to kill the men, take their land andrape their women. Ridiculed by the majority of the country as aneccentric (he was nicknamed ET) has-been, he was nonetheless theundisputed leader of a segment of the Afrikaner population who couldnot, would not, come to terms with the multi-racial democratic realitythat is post-Apartheid South Africa.
Terreblanche’s stated goalthroughout his political career as leader of the AfrikanerWeerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), or AWB, was tosecede and establish an independent state for the Afrikaners that wouldfollow him there, a Boerestaat. WhilePolice said Sunday the murder was not politically motivated but ratherthe result of a pay dispute between Terreblanche and two of his farmworkers, there is little doubt that his murder will reverberatepolitically across the country, and especially within the embattledwhite Afrikaner farming community, where it will shine a stark light ontheir grievances and growing schism with the ruling ANC and the state.
Whilevery few in the mainstream of the “Rainbow Nation” will missTerreblanche (he hated everyone who wasn’t a white, heterosexualAfrikaner farmer), many South Africans are quietly concerned thatTerreblanche’s murder is another signpost in the country’s acceleratingtransformation into a deeply divided and troubled land.
Whilethere is no official reaction from the organized Jewish community,which Terreblanche viewed much as Hitler’s Nazi party did, and who theJews in turn viewed as utterly despicable, there is a sense of empathyand identification with the Afrikaner sector of society, and a growingunease about the country’s future.
Over the past decade,Afrikaners have felt increasingly embattled, sidelined from thepolitical process, discriminated against in all socio-economic fieldsand culturally blotted out from the otherwise rich South Africancultural tapestry. Terreblanche’s murder also comes after years ofattacks against white farmers, and, more immediately, an increase inofficial government statements regarding land reforms that could seewhite farmers dispossessed of their land. While not quite the chaoticand destructive Zimbabwe model of land “redistribution” yet, Afrikanersare feeling that their backs are very quickly being pushed up againstthe wall.
And one need not look too far back into history to seewhat Afrikaners do when they feel cornered: they turn inwards, theycircle the wagons, [the so-called “Kraal Mentality” of the Great Trek],take out their guns, and start fighting back. The question on manypeople’s minds now is what will become of the extreme Right in SouthAfrica? Will the growing bitterness of the Afrikaner Right, and theirincreasing marginalization and looming possible dispossession, lead toa violent backlash?
Politically, this sector is not making anyheadway against the strong ANC, and the weak, divided oppositionpolitical parties will never publicly come out in support of theAfrikaner right wing. While the vast majority of Afrikaners aremoderate, God-fearing and law abiding people, there is a growing senseof disentitlement, and a growing identification by many whites in thecountry with the maligned Boer.
Terreblanche’s AWB was never apotent political or military force. According to its own count, at theheight of its popularity it had some 70,000 members. It is hard togauge how many members the AWB has now and how easy it is to recruitnew blood as the organization itself went into hibernation togetherwith its charismatic leader over the past several years. Indeed, sincehis release from prison on serious assault charges (he beat a black gasstation attendant to within an inch of his life) in 2004, Terreblanchewas almost entirely silent. It was only this past December that theAWB, together with smaller white supremacist groups, held a meeting atwhich it was decided to reactivate themselves. It is too early to saywhat impact Terreblanche’s murder will have on the political fortunesof the Afrikaner nationalist camp.While his organization did manageto mount several disparate, and desperate, terror attacks against stateinfrastructure and personnel, which also led to some death and injury,the AWB never had the staying power or massive grassroots support of atrue guerrilla movement. But increasingly, Afrikaners have come to seethe state as ineffective, and sometimes even complicit in the murder ofwhite farmers and the growing campaign to “redistribute” their farms.This dovetails with the widespread feeling across all sectors ofsociety that the ANC government is quickly losing its grip on law andorder. Most, if not all, of the farming families across the countryhave firearms, and they know how to use them. Boer children learn froma very early age how to hunt, and how to protect the farmstead frompredators. They’re a tough, proud people, with a long history offighting for what they believe in, and they are on the whole bitterlyunhappy.
With the country already reeling from out-of-controlviolent crime, the last thing South African President Jacob Zuma wantsnow is a violent insurgency led by hard-core, army-trained, angry whitesupremacists setting South Africa ablaze on the eve of the World Cup.That’s why Zuma, himself a former ANC armed-wing resistance fighter andno fan of the AWB, on Sunday called for calm among the Afrikaners andeven phoned Terreblanche’s family to offer his condolences. That’s whyhe sent the chief of police and Minister of Police to Terreblanche’shome town of Ventersdorp to visit the family and hold a pressconference to vow that “the case will be cracked.”
The AWBitself, in a statement released Sunday, blamed the murder on ANC YouthLeague president Julius Malema for his campaign of incitement, andcalled on its supporters, friends and members to “stay calm for nowwhile we mourn our leader.”
“Our leader’s death is directly linked to [ANC Youth League president]Julius Malema’s ‘kill the Boer’ song,” an AWB spokesman said.
The AWB also said it would hold a conference with all its members atthe beginning of May to decide on “what actions we will take to revengeTerreblanche’s death.”
The main message posted on right-wing Afrikaner internet forums is acall for unity in the ranks, for Afrikaners to stick together “untilfinal victory,” and for moderation and cool heads to prevail, with oneinternet user saying the Afrikaners should not sing “Kill the Blacks.”