A supporter of white supremacist leader Eugene Terre'blanche holds his picture during his funeral in Ventersdorp
A supporter of white supremacist leader Eugene Terre'blanche holds his picture during his funeral in Ventersdorp Reuters

The trial for the accused killers of former extreme right-wing, white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche has commenced in South Africa.

Two black farmworkers, Chris Mahlangu, now 29, and a 16-year-old boy face charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances in connection with the killing of Terreblanche in April 2010. The two has initially turned themselves into the police, after admitting they were involved in a dispute with Terreblanche over payment of services.

Terreblanche was reportedly stabbed and beaten with a wooden club, resulting in 28 separate injuries to his body. Unconfirmed reports suggested that the farmworkers had reacted with violence to sexual advances from Terreblanche.

The killing sparked violent clashes between Terreblanche’s white Afrikaner supporters in the northwestern town of Ventersdorp and the local black community.

Mahlangu was hailed as a hero by many blacks in the country.

The murder trial is being held in Ventersdorp amidst extremely tight security following two postponements.

Terreblanche was the epitome of violent white resistance to black power in South Africa and an adherence to apartheid. In 1973, he founded the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement - AWB), which was dedicated to maintaining apartheid and defended the rights of white Afrikaners. The AWB flag closely resembled the swastika of Nazi Germany.

Over the years, Terreblanche and his AWB members committed many violent acts against those who sought to overthrow the apartheid system. For example, in 1993 an AWB vehicle smashed into a building in Johannesburg where talks were being held to end apartheid. The following year (when democratic rule was officially established in South Africa and apartheid abolished) AWB commandoes invaded the tribal homeland of Bophuthatswana, but suffered losses.

Terreblanche admitted responsibility for a terror campaign in 1994 designed to upend the new government.

Terreblanche was himself imprisoned for three years (2001-2004) for the attempted murder of a black farmworker.

Read here for a discussion of South Africa's dwindling Afrikaner community.