Thousands of followers of the murdered South African white supremacist Eugene Terre'blanche, many wearing combat fatigues, thronged to his funeral today as racial tensions ran high.
Two black farm workers have been charged with beating and hacking Terre'blanche to death last Saturday in what police suspect was a pay dispute, but which his party sees as politically motivated.
Terre'blanche, 69, had been marginalised after his failed efforts to preserve apartheid in the early 1990s, but the killing has exposed the racial divide that remains 16 years after the end of white minority rule.
"We think it was an assassination, not a murder," said Andre Visagie, Secretary General of Terre'blanche's Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) outside his farm.
As the coffin was wheeled into the church, mourners sang the apartheid-era national anthem. With space limited, a few thousand supporters filled the streets of the small farming town of Ventersdorp, 60 miles west of Johannesburg.
The old South African flag and the party's flag - which resembles the Nazi swastika - fluttered from pickup trucks.
Police were out in force and helicopters hovered above streets where few black South Africans were to be seen. The church lifted its usual "whites only" restriction to allow in black journalists.
President Jacob Zuma has called for calm after the murder, barely two months before South Africa is due to host the soccer World Cup finals, and the AWB has ruled out violent reprisals, but the mood among some at the funeral was militant.
"We are here today to declare war and avenge the death of our leader," said one 46-year-old businessman from the northeastern Mpumalanga province who did not want to be named.
"Most white men between 35-55 have military training and we are prepared to use our skills."
The murder has heightened a sense among its supporters - a tiny minority of the 10 per cent of whites in a population of 48 million - that they are being targeted by the African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled South Africa since 1994.
Julius Malema, leader of the militant ANC Youth League, caused controversy last month when he sang a black liberation struggle song that includes the words "Kill the Boer" (Afrikaans for farmer) - now banned by the courts as hate speech.
Malema was told by the ANC to avoid inflammatory comment over the Terre'blanche killing.
Today, the ANC condemned Malema's comments at a news conference yesterday, as well as his expulsion of a British journalist with a barrage of expletives. It said he would be summoned to a meeting to discuss the issues raised.Reuse content