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Don't inflame race tensions - Zuma

2010-04-04 22:48

Ventersdorp - President Jacob Zuma on Sunday called for politicians not to inflame race tensions after the murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche.

The 69-year-old Terre'Blanche was hacked to death on his farm outside Ventersdorp.

"It is our responsibility to denounce the crime and stay away from statements that might reverse nation building and racial cohesion," Zuma said on public television.

Zuma's appeal for calm comes after the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging vowed to avenge their leader's brutal killing on Saturday night.

"Leaders and organisations must not to use Mr Terre'Blanche's death to score political points. Instead, they must work harder to unite our people," the president said.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) said nothing could justify the killing of Terre'Blanche.

"We make a call to all South Africans to refrain from making speculative pronouncements, as the perpetrators have handed themselves to the law enforcement authorities," the ANC added in a statement.

The secretary-general of the Afrikaner AWB, Andre Visagie, told AFP that the group would meet on May 1 to plan the way forward but urged its members to remain calm and not to take immediate action.

'Shoot the boer'

"We will decide upon our actions to avenge Mr Terre'Blanche's death. We will take action and the specific action ... will be decided upon at our conference on the first of May," said Visagie.

The murder came amid heightened race tensions over a song with the refrain "shoot  the boers", which has been adopted by fiery ANCYL leader Julius Malema.

The ANC argues that the song is part of the legacy of South Africa's liberation struggle, but the president faces pressure to condemn use of the song - which is being blamed for motivating the murder.

Two men - one a teenager - who were workers on the farm have been arrested for Terre'Blanche's murder.

They claimed that a fight had ensued after Terre'Blanche refused to pay them their monthly wages of R300.

"Let us not fan the flames, let us not romanticise violence, let us allow the police to do their work. There are emotions involved here, inflammatory statements will not help the case," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who visited Terre'Blanche's family and the murder scene on Sunday.

Police barred access to the right-wing leader's farm on Sunday morning as journalists began to descend on the small town and supporters arrived to mourn his death.

Pushed 'too far'

According to the Sunday Times newspaper, the two workers notified the police after the incident and waited for them to arrive.

"They also alleged that Terre'Blanche was a bad employer who used to physically and verbally abuse them. They claim that he pushed them too far," a police source told the newspaper.

His bloodied body was found in his bed with facial and head injuries, a panga still embedded in his flesh and a knobkierie nearby.

Violence on farms is high, with 1 248 farmers and farm workers killed between 1997 and 2007.