Archive for April 4th, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Obituary: Eugene Terreblanche, 1941 – 2010

He was a former policeman and a farmer, a politician, and South Africa’s He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Eugene Terre’Blanche formed the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement, AWB) in 1973, in opposition to an apartheid regime which he considered too weak to maintain white minority rule. Afrikaner is another word for Boers, in the boers’ own language, Afrikaans. In an interview in 1985, he told Der Spiegel‘s Paul Schumacher that

“Apartheid, to me, isn’t oppression. It is order between different races. People of different colors are kept apart from each other in peace. Nowhere in Africa, where the white man was a minority, he was left alone. […] The white man will go under if Botha continues his path.”*)

What followed was a bizarre argument between the correspondent and Terre’Blanche about to which degree Afrikaners had “dark blood” in their veins. Terre’Blanche: “There were exceptions, single weaklings.”

And a political weakling of the 1980s was South Africa’s second-last [update: apartheid] president Pieter Willem Botha, in Terre’Blanche’s eyes. Terre’Blanche demanded a vrystaat, a free state or homeland, for those Afrikaners who wanted to make sure that they’d live separately from all other South Africans ever after, no matter which turns the Republic was to take.

In an informal television poll by SABC 3, in September 2004, he ranked 25th in a list of Great South Africans. When released from jail, also in 2004, after three years – he had been found guilty of trying to kill a black security guard -, he told his supporters that “I was the only white man in a prison cell but God was there with me and he protected me”.

His own farm near Ventersdorp, North West Province was apparently less safe a place than his prison cell. According to the police, Terre’Blanche was beaten to death in a dispute with two farm workers over unpaid wages.

The AWB’s secretary-general Andre Visagie told AFP that Terre’Blanche’s death would be “avenged”, but urged the organization’s members to stay calm “for the moment”. Visagie claims that the killing had been politically motivated.

Race relations in South Africa remain uneasy. On March 26, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled that the words “shoot the Boer” as part of a song was unconstitutional and unlawful.

If Terre’Blance was really killed in a wage dispute, this might be indicative of the economic aspect in race relations, too. One man, one vote hasn’t translated into equal opportunities and equal rights in economical terms yet – and will take much more time, if it is meant to be economically sustainable.

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*) own translation from German – JR

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The Underside of South African Democracy, South African Civil Society, October 13, 2009

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