Farmhand convicted of murder of South African supremacist

Wed, May 23, 2012, 01:00

ONE OF the two farmhands accused of beating to death white supremacist leader Eugene Terre’Blanche at his farmhouse in South Africa was convicted of the murder yesterday.

Chris Mahlangu (29) was found guilty of murdering the controversial leader of the right-wing Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) on his property near Ventersdorp, a rural town in North West Province, in 2010.

A postmortem revealed Terre’Blanche was beaten and stabbed 28 times. He was found nearly unrecognisable in a bedroom at his farmhouse on April 4th after co-accused Patrick Ndlovu rang the police to report the incident. Ndlovu, a minor when charged, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of housebreaking with intent to steal. Judge John Horn said there was no admissible evidence showing the 18-year-old played an active role in the fatal attack.

Most of the evidence gathered by the police in relation to Ndlovu’s role in the incident was dismissed by the court because investigators failed to follow the rules of investigation relating to minors.

The verdict handed down by Judge Horan has brought to a close a case highlighting the ongoing racial tensions that exist in South Africa 18 years after the transition to democracy.

Initially, many South Africans thought the murder of Terre’Blanche might spark a wave of inter-racial violence if the murder was linked to the deceased’s right-wing political views. But these fears subsided once evidence suggested the motive for the attack was over unpaid wages.

Mahlangu had insisted throughout the two-year trial he had acted in self-defence, and at one point during the hearing a defence witness said he had been sodomised by Terre’Blanche. Ndlovu had maintained his innocence throughout the case.

However, Judge Horn rejected the accusation of sodomy as a defence for Mahlangu, saying the act was “such a personal intrusion, I can’t believe he would not have raised it immediately [he was arrested]”.

In relation to Terre’Blanche, Judge Horn noted he was revered by some and despised by others, but “none of these things could justify the brutal attack on the deceased”.

Tensions were running high prior to the verdict yesterday. Backers of Mahlangu and Ndlovu as well as members of the AWB gathered outside the rural courthouse brandishing flags, placards and singing songs in support of the accused and the deceased.

Some of the placards read, “Down with the AWB” and “Thank you, Mahlangu”.

Even though both groups attempted to provoke each other, a strong police presence ensured they were kept separate, and the situation never got out of control.

A date for sentencing Mahlangu and Ndlovu has yet to be set.