|Around 3,000 people commemorated Eugene
The road to Ventersdorp, home of the
late Eugene Terreblanche, is fringed with fertile fields. It is a breath of
fresh air driving through the countryside. But then you see the road signs, they
are daubed with racist graffiti.
You think it is a throwback to the
1980s, but then you realise the spray paint is still fresh and these racist
slogans come from the mouths of a post-apartheid generation.
almost taste the racism in Ventersdorp.
I was trying to get a sense of
how people were reacting to the killing of the town's most infamous resident and
whether the extreme right-wing views he represented had become less evident
since the fall of apartheid.
Looking for vengeance
intercept a white woman as she emerges from a chip shop. With her neatly coiffed
hair and freshly-applied lipstick, she is a picture of what might appear to be
And she is happy to talk. "Did she expect a backlash
following Terreblanche's death?" I enquire politely.
"Yes," she says.
And, taking me by surprise, she describes rather forcefully how she would
happily take up arms herself to avenge the killing.
This lady may
represent an extreme of Afrikaner thought, but in this town, where the
swastika-like emblem of the AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement) stands proud,
there are many conservatives whose views have hardened these last few
This febrile atmosphere has not been calmed by the rantings of the
youth league of the ruling African National Congress
One black woman I
talked to lamented that Eugene Terreblanche had been made a
atmosphere has not been calmed by the rantings of the youth league of the ruling
African National Congress"
pay the price," she told me.
The khaki-and-black clad members of the AWB
were largely dismissed in the mid-90s as an embarrassment and an
I was told in Ventersdorp that since Terreblanche's killing,
the AWB claim that new members are queuing up to join, but few here believe they
will be a significant political force.
It was teeming with rain when I
met Harry at a farm half-an-hour's drive from Ventersdorp.
He had just
picked his son up from university where black and white students now study side
by side. Harry's parents were killed two years ago in a brutal robbery at their
His best friend Paul was gunned down on his farm in Limpopo just a
few weeks back.
Farm killings, fuelled by South Africa's gross
inequalities, have become big news.
And because the majority of farmers
are white, it has assumed a racial dimension.
This febrile atmosphere has not been calmed by the rantings of
the youth league of the ruling African National Congress, who have been taunting
the farmers with anti-white songs from the days of the liberation
Harry is one of those South Africans who was full of hope when
Nelson Mandela became president in 1994.
But now, he tells me, he feels let down by President Zuma.
He said he had expected him to behave like a father protecting all his
"This he has failed to do," he said.
The great irony is
that the frustration of white farmers like Harry is shared by many
Jabu is a black businessman in Soweto, the township in southern
Johannesburg which is associated with the liberation struggle.
crime, I realised later, was the common thread that united these two
But one of them thinks the answer is a return to racial segregation.
The other says the country needs to come together and move on.
Jabu was sipping sodas at Sakumzi's restaurant in Soweto
when I first met him. He is bright, streetwise and was wearing the football
strip of one of the local clubs.
Playing on a white assumption, he
introduces himself to me as a car thief. I very quickly realise he was
He was the only black player on the student football team when he
studied at the University of the Witwatersrand back in the early
|A supporter of slain white supremacist
leader Eugene Terreblanche holds a placard reading, Afrikaners on the march to
freedom, outside the court in Ventersdorp, South Africa, Tuesday, April 6, 2010.
South Africa was famously dubbed the 'rainbow nation'
Now nearly two decades later, he says
the racial mix there has remained virtually the same. But he is certain that
things are changing for the better in South Africa and he prides himself on
having a racially mixed social circle.
Jabu sympathises with the white
farmers who express their fears over crime but insists that everyone in South
Africa is affected.
"I grew up in my neighbourhood with thieves," he
tells me. "And now, most of them are dead."
There is a man up the road
who specialise in "panga" or machete killings, he says bluntly.
we do?" he asks. "We just try to rub along together and remember the spirit of
"ubuntu", or brotherhood, that Nelson Mandela showed us. We also need to do more
to bridge the economic divide. And we've got to stop using race as an
This is famously the rainbow nation and much has changed here
since the days of apartheid. Yet colour, it seems to me, still defines
everything in South Africa.