Black farm worker guilty of Terre'Blanche murderBy SIBONGILE KHUMALO | Tuesday, May 22 2012 at 18:48
A South African court Tuesday convicted one of the two accused black farm workers in the murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terre'Blanche.
"After all the evidence given, I conclude that accused number one (Chris Mahlangu) is guilty as charged," said Judge John Horn in the High Court sitting in Ventersdorp in northwest South Africa.
Co-accused Patrick Ndlovu, who was a minor at the time of the crime, was found guilty only of house-breaking, and not guilty on charges of murder and robbery.
Last month Horn ruled most evidence against the teenager inadmissible because police failed to follow South Africa's child protection law in handling the case.
The co-founder of the far right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) was bludgeoned to death at his farmhouse outside Ventersdorp, a small farming town, on April 3, 2010.
The pair turned themselves in after the incident.
Horn rejected Mahlangu's claims to have acted in self-defence and accepted the prosecution's argument that the killing had been triggered by a fight over wages.
"He was revered by some, but despised by others," said the judge, rejecting assertions that Terre'Blanche had been killed over his political views.
"According to what was put to some of the witnesses on behalf of the accused, the dispute with the deceased was about money, not about his political beliefs or aversion for black people," Judge Horn said.
Mahlangu's conviction was no surprise given the vast evidence against him.
The court found no proof that Terre'Blanche had sodomised Mahlangu, a claim which he raised some time after the trial started.
"Sodomy is such a personal intrusion, I can't believe (Mahlangu) would not have raised it immediately," said Horn.
Furthermore there was no indication that police had removed semen from Terre'Blanche's genitals after the crime.
"There was no earthly reason for them to lay their careers on the line to act in such manner. They had nothing to gain. It simply does not make sense," he said.
Outside the court a small group of AWB members displaying the movement's red flags with swastika-like emblem were gathered.
Posters with Terre'Blanche's face hung on trees, with slogans like "We Want Justice" and "Stop Farm Murders".
Supporters of the accused pair sang the song "Shoot the Boer" - an apartheid-era rallying cry that was banned last year - outside the court, with some carrying placards reading "Down with the AWB".
Heavily armed police guarded the court, with a large group of local and foreign journalists moving in the area cordoned off outside the building.
The killing confronted South Africa with memories of its dark apartheid past two years ago, but during the long proceedings the trial has largely faded from public debate.
The trial instead cast yet another light on South Africa's staggering incidence of sexual abuse and of violence on the country's farms, still mostly in white hands 18 years after the end of apartheid.
Sentencing is expected within six weeks.
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