I woke on Sunday to the news of Eugene Terreblanche’s death—it made my bank holiday weekend.
I lived in South Africa most of my life and I remember well Terreblanche, leader of the white South African Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), as an unrepentant racist.
The media like to portray him as a buffoon—more of an embarrassment than a murderer.
Yet he brutalised, terrorised and killed black South Africans and, up until his well deserved death, encouraged widespread violence against them.
A former South African policeman, Terreblanche formed the AWB in 1973, after becoming disillusioned with what he perceived to be a weakening of white rule.
The AWB logo is an adaptation of the Nazi swastika.
Terreblanche paraded around on horseback with uniformed armed guards wearing black shirts.
Terreblanche and the AWB committed widespread acts of violence as they attempted to plunge the country into civil war.
They aimed to halt the election of Nelson Mandela as South African president and the transition to black majority rule.
In 1991 the AWB attacked a meeting being held by then president FW De Klerk. A number of people were killed and injured in the attack.
In 1993 Terreblanche led the attack on the multi-party negotiations at the Kempton Park World Trade Centre, driving an armoured truck through the doors.
In 1994 the AWB rounded up truck-loads of farmers to enter the “independent black homeland” of Bophuthatswana, situated within South Africa.
In scenes shown across the world, three of the white farmers were shot by local police as they fled the area.
They had thrown grenades out of their trucks, shooting and killing an untold number of civilians.
It was a signal that the brutal regime of white rule had been brought to its knees.
The AWB launched a bombing campaign in 1994 in which 21 people, mostly black, were killed. Terreblanche later took “moral” responsibility for these attacks in a statement to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998.
He was granted immunity from prosecution.
Terreblanche was finally sentenced to six years in prison in 1997 after he severely beat petrol attendant John Ndzima in 1996, setting his dog on him.
He was also charged with the attempted murder of Paul Motshabi, a security guard and worker on his farm.
He left Motshabi brain damaged and disabled.
Terreblanche was sent to prison in 2001 but was released after serving only three years of his sentence.
Eugene Terreblanche spent his life determined to oppress black people—down the barrel of a rifle, or at the end of fists and boots.
The white right wing say his murder is another case of black violence against innocent white people in South Africa.
The truth is that black people are the real victims.
In a country where 79 percent of the population is black, thanks to the legacy of apartheid, 96 percent are categorised as poor and 18 million live on less than $2 a day.
The two workers accused of Terreblanche’s murder are the ones who deserve our sympathy.
They would have been subject to the untold abuse that comes from being forced, by poverty, to work for a fascist who saw them as less important than animals.