Trial postponed in S.African far-right leader's murder

10th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The trial of two farm workers accused of bludgeoning to death South African white separatist leader Eugene Terre'Blanche was postponed Tuesday to October 10.

Terre'Blanche, a co-founder of the far-right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), was hacked to death at his farm house outside the northwest town of Ventersdorp on April 3 last year in a murder that revived the lingering racial tensions of apartheid.

Two black workers on the farm, 29-year-old Chris Mahlangu and a 16-year-old, were charged with the killing after handing themselves in to police, allegedly saying they had fought with their employer over pay.

Their trial was set down for December but has been postponed twice because of changes in lawyers for the defence.

"I must say I am not impressed with the manner in which this was handled. It resulted in time being unnecessarily wasted," Judge John Horn said in the Ventersdorp court, rescheduling the trial for October 10 to 21.

The killing highlighted the uneasy race relations that have continued to divide South Africa since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, with President Jacob Zuma appealing for calm as Terre'Blanche's followers vowed to avenge his death.

In the end there was no violent retaliation, and the group retreated from its call for revenge.

Terre'Blanche rose to notoriety as the leader of the militant AWB, which violently opposed the first democratic elections with a series of bomb attacks that killed 21 people.

But the 69-year-old had sunk into relative obscurity at the time of his death, and his group now exists only on the fringes of South African society.

© 2011 AFP

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