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Africa
Guilty verdict in South Africa murder case
Court convicts one of two black farm workers accused of killing far-right leader Eugene Terreblanche in April 2010.
Last Modified: 22 May 2012 19:48

A South African court has convicted one of two black farm workers accused of murdering Eugene Terreblanche, a far-right leader, in April 2010. 

The court in Ventersdorp, in rural South Africa, found Chris Mahlangu guilty of beating Terreblanche to death on Tuesday, but acquitted Patrick Ndlovu, the younger suspect, of murder.

Ndlovu, who turned 18-years-old during the trial, was convicted of breaking and entering Terreblanche's house with intent to steal.

Police have described the murder of Terreblanche, a 69-year-old white supremacist, as the climax of a longstanding dispute over unpaid wages.

During the trial, defence lawyers alleged that Mahlangu and Ndlovu had been physically abused by Terreblanche and acted in self-defence.

Many black South Africans rallied outside the court in support of Mahlangu and Ndlovu [AFP]

The defence attorneys said their case was weakened by poor police work.

They argued that evidence indicating Mahlangu was being raped by Terreblanche before he fought back and killed him was ignored by the court.

The lawyers said a substance believed to be semen that witnesses reported seeing on Terreblanche's body apparently was not preserved as evidence.

Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from Cape Town, said that Ndlovu's acquittal was widely expected.

"The reaction has not been one of great surprise because all through the lengthy trial, holes were picked in much of the police evidence gathered in relation to Patrick Ndlovu, who has been acquitted of murder," she said.

"The judge said that police botched their handling of this young man who at the time was a minor. He should have been protected by the country's child-protection laws, which are much stricter when it comes to handling a witness or someone suspected of involvement in the crime.

"The judge said they ignored those laws and deprived him as well of food and sleep without any sufficient evidence against him."

Scores of white protesters had gathered in support of Terreblanche's family, facing off against a larger crowd of black supporters of the accused as they awaited the court's verdict. 

Terreblanche co-founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, known as the AWB, to seek an all-white republic within South Africa.

The verdict ends a case that has lasted two years and increased racial tensions in Ventersdorp.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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