Semen testimony puzzle in S.Africa extremist murder trial
Questions over slain South African white extremist Eugene Terre'Blanche's sexual activities and his gory murder dogged his murder trial after nearly two weeks of hearings.
Two black farm workers are charged with bludgeoning the 69-year-old to death but contradictory statements have sketched a different picture from the simple labour dispute initially thought to have sparked the attack.
Police this week testified that the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) leader was found in April 2010 with his pants open and semen on his penis and had been so badly beaten while lying in bed that he was unrecognisable.
“He was so badly beaten on the face, I couldn’t even recognise him. I identified him by his shoes and the clothes he was wearing,” Captain Jacobus Rautenbach told the court in Ventersdorp, local media reported.
“His pants were unzipped and genitals exposed. There was also sperm on his penis and it was still fresh.”
The court also heard that blood spatters showed the farmer was battered in his bed and did not defend himself.
The testimonies raise questions over the version of the two farm workers charged with killing him outside Ventersdorp in the northwest of the country.
Farm workers Chris Mahlangu, 29, and a 16-year-old minor both pleaded not-guilty to all charges.
Mahlangu said he acted in self-defence when Terre’Blanche attacked him with the machete. The youth claimed Terre’Blanche was already dead when he entered the house.
But this was seemingly contradicted by testimonies of police and experts who first saw the farmer’s mutilated body lying on his bed.
“There is no blood stain evidence to show the person fought back indicating he was taken by surprise,” police blood spatter expert lieutenant colonel Ian van der Nest told the High Court sitting in Ventersdorp.
Blood spatters on the door, walls, bed, and even curtains further indicated the killing was violent.
“Very large stains can be visualised. These stains are much larger than impact spatter. This indicates an extreme amount of force was used,” said Van der Nest.
The accused have also denied the killing followed a fallout over wages, an argument they used earlier to justify the killing.
The two had led police to the scene after one phoned authorities to confess to the crime. One officer testified that he was told to change information in his original statement.
Questions also remain about why traces of blood were found in the farmer’s pick-up truck parked outside and why his genitals were covered with semen.
Mahlangu would explain the semen, his lawyers said.
Meanwhile the defence has pointed out police missteps in the trial. Officers did not take a swab to test the semen on Terre’Blanche’s genitals. They also locked up the youth with adults in prison.
The teenager’s lawyer Norman Arendse said Terre’Blanche often plied the boy — then 15 years old — with alcohol.
“There were also allegations of verbal, physical and sexual abuse,” Arendse said.
“We have a situation here of child labour,” he added.
Allegations of abuse by Terre’Blanche are not new. He spent three years in prison on a 1997 conviction of trying to kill a security guard who was so severely attacked that he suffered permanent brain damage.
Terre’Blanche’s family members and the media followed the trial over television in a separate room, to protect the teenager’s identity. He cannot be named or pictured under South African law.
But notably absent have been Terre’Blanche’s supporters, who wear swastika-like symbols and who tried to derail South Africa’s first all-race elections in 1994.
The trial is set to continue until Friday.