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South Africa: White Extremist’s House Stirs Debate



Eugene Terre'Blanche speaks at an Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) gathering in Pretoria in 1999. (AP Photo)

Eugene Terre’Blanche speaks at an Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) gathering in Pretoria in 1999. (AP Photo)


LYNSEY CHUTEL, Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A proposal to turn the South African home of a slain white extremist into a state-funded museum has angered some South Africans who say certain symbols of their history of racial conflict should not be preserved.

The house in Ventersdorp town belonged to Eugene Terre’Blanche, leader of a hardline movement of whites from the Afrikaner minority that staged violent protests ahead of South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994. One of the workers on his farm murdered him in his house in 2010.

Themba Gwabeni, a former anti-apartheid activist and member of the heritage council in South Africa’s North West province, proposed turning the home into a protected heritage site on the grounds that it is important to remember the “ugly” past of racial oppression. He said Wednesday that he did not intend to revive the racist agenda of Terre’Blanche’s Afrikaner Resistance Movement, whose red, black and white flag was reminiscent of the Nazi flags bearing the swastika.

The National Heritage Council, which oversees monuments, rejected the proposal, saying the application was not filed in line with administrative procedures. However, Gwabeni said he would refile the application.

Some South Africans posted criticism of the proposal on social media.

“Is racism our heritage now?” one tweet read.

“When you look at Terre’Blanche, the atrocities he committed against black people in particular, we don’t want to remember that,” said Pat Motubatse, a member of the South African Communist Party, a close ally of the ruling African National Congress.

Motubatse said those who suffered at the hands of Terre’Blanche and his supporters offer enough reminders of the extremist’s legacy. They include Paul Motshabi, a former employee who was left incapacitated after Terre’Blanche beat him with a steel pipe. Terre’Blanche served several years in prison for that attack.

After his release in 2004, Terre’Blanche returned to his farm, where he was murdered. The employee who killed him, Chris Mahlangu, was sentenced to life in prison.

Gwabeni, the heritage councilor, wants to display evidence from Mahlangu’s trial in the planned museum.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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