If Eugene Terreblanche had died of natural causes, his death could have been dismissed as the passing of a vile buffoon, an event as unimportant as his white supremacist views. Yet it is the nature of Terreblanche's gruesome murder that has filled many with dismay.
It could be a tragic coincidence that he was killed just as the firebrand and influential ANC youth league president Julius Malema was paying homage to Robert Mugabe for Zimbabwe's purge of almost the entire white farming population in his country. It could also be just a tragic coincidence that the killing came just as the ANC had revived its infamous "Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer" song. But the result is the re-emergence of racial disharmony on a scale not seen since 1994.
The AWB has reported a surge in membership. Within the black population, Terreblanche's killers are being hailed as "heroes" with poor farm-workers offering to bankroll their bail. They see the death as an act of vengeance for their continued mistreatment by the country's 50 000 large scale white farmers.
This may all pass, but not without strong leadership from Jacob Zuma to rein in the loudmouths in his party. It will remain difficult for the country's white population to view the murder outside the context of a President Zuma persistently yelling in song to be given "my machine gun" and his sidekicks praising the mowing down of white farmers when 3,000 of such killings have happened over the years.
If there was ever a time South Africa required Mandela-era bridge-building leadership, it is now.