All it takes is a single voice behind me to send chills down my spine. “What do black people want here?” a man barks. “They are killing us. We must arm ourselves and kill them.”
We’re standing at the gate of Eugene Terre’Blanche’s farm near Ventersdorp the day after the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader’s gruesome murder. Easter Sunday. Groups of people, most of them dressed in khaki uniforms with AWB insignia on the sleeves, have come to pay their respects to their fallen leader. Bunches of flowers are laid on the ground alongside condolence cards and teddy bears as men, women and children weep and embrace.
Photographer Fani Mahuntsi and I are the only black faces and it’s a disconcerting feeling. The old South African flag flaps on the gate. There’s also an Israeli flag with the words “Ethnic cleansing? Afrikaner genocide?” scrawled across it and a German flag bearing the words “Silent war. Help!”
The German flag was hung by Gavin Andrew Erasmus and his wife, Maria, who arrived at the farm with their four children. Gavin is the one who asks us what we’re doing here. Afrikaners have come to mourn the death of one of their own, he says. We have no place here.
He looks me up and down. “We need to arm ourselves,” he says. “We’re tired of dying. They’re killing farmers. We’re going to stand up and never allow another murder to take place. I have never supported the AWB but now my heart has changed. My family and I are taking up arms; we’re ready to die fighting.”
I refuse to back down in the face of intimidation. “Do you realise I could be lynched because of you?” I ask him. “Your words are putting me in danger.”
Before things deteriorate the tension is defused by the arrival of AWB secretary-general Andre Visagie, who is considerably friendlier.
The 15-year-old boy accused of killing him knew Terre’ Blanche well, farm worker Joseph Moabi says. The boy and his 27-year-old co-accused, Chris Mahlangu, allegedly hacked Terre’Blanche with pangas because he owed them R300 each for work they’d done on the farm.
Oompie Jantjies, who works on a farm not far from Terre’ Blanche’s plot, says the AWB leader was a changed man when he came out of prison.
“He stopped terrorising farm workers,” he says. “He used to preach that we were all equal in God’s eyes. I believe he was a changed man but others didn’t. They say a leopard can’t change its spots. And that’s why they’re happy he’s dead.”
See the print issue of YOU magazine (15 April) for in-depth coverage on this developing story, including a look at farm murder statistics in SA.