Life for man who killed Terre'Blanche with axe

 

Johannesburg

A South African court sentenced a black farmhand to life in prison yesterday for the axe murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche, a white supremacist who was prominent during the dying years of apartheid.

Chris Mahlangu killed Mr Terre'Blanche over a pay dispute in April 2011 at the white farmer's home in Ventersdorp, about 80 miles west of Johannesburg.

Judge John Horn said the attack was not racially motivated. A second man, who was a minor at the time of Mr Terre'Blanche's murder, was found guilty of housebreaking in Ventersdorp and given a suspended sentence.

Prosecutors said Mahlangu and his co-accused broke into Mr Terre'Blanche's home, where they found the 71-year-old asleep, and hacked him to death with an axe.

Many South Africans see Mr Terre'Blanche as a relic from a bygone era and his murder did little to stir racial tension.

Yet the case has served as a reminder of the bitter historical divisions in a country now dubbed the "Rainbow Nation" and ruled by the African National Congress, the party that helped end apartheid in 1994.

Mr Terre'Blanche, a burly man known for his thick white beard and fiery rhetoric, led the hardline supremacist Afrikaner Resistance Movement.

Its members adopted military uniforms and flags with a symbol reminiscent of the Nazi swastika and called for an all-white homeland.

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