Eugene Terre'Blanche

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Eugene Ney Terre'Blanche (January 31, 1941 - April 3, 2010) was a South African white separatist, Boer nationalist and leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement or AWB), a racist political movement in South Africa.

In June 2004, he was released from prison after serving 3 years for assaulting a gas station attendant and for the attempted murder of one of his employees.

Early life

Terre'Blanche was born in the Western Transvaal town of Ventersdorp in 1941, reportedly to a Calvinist Afrikaner family. His father was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the South African Defense Force and his grandfather a General in the Boer War.

Terre'Blanche excelled at school and was Chairman of a debating society whilst at school in Ventersdorp, he also achieved well in sports. He was captain of his school's first rugby team. He also founded a cultural organization whilst at school

From 1985 until 2004 Terre'Blanche, in addition to his political and commercial responsibilities, ran his family's farm in Ventersdorp, which he, in 1985, inherited from his father.


In the 1960s Terre'Blanche joined the South African Police, he was assigned to the Special Guard Unit, which was tasked with protecting VIPs and Cabinet Ministers. Rumours abounded that he was Prime Minister John Vorster's bodyguard, but this is untrue.

He attained the rank of Warrant Officer and, in 1968, was employed at the police recruitment offices in Pretoria, where he met Jan Groenewald. Groenewald was applying to the police at the time, he was accepted and Terre'Blanche and he became close friends. It was against this backdrop that Terre'Blanche became a right-winger, Groenewald persuaded him that the reforms to Apartheid that Prime Minister Vorster was making were damaging to Whites.

In the early 1970s Terre'Blanche briefly worked at Rondalia, a holiday resort association. Then he went to work for the Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP. English= Re-constituted National Party), a right-wing party which opposed the ruling National Party's reforms to Apartheid. Terre'Blanche was an organiser until the HNP Deputy Leader, Jaap Marais, expelled him and Groenewald from the party (Groenewald too was a HNP organiser).


In the 1970 general election the HNP failed to win any seats in parliament, in fact Terre'Blanche himself was a candidate in the eastern Transvaal. So, in 1973, Terre'Blanche, Groenewald and 5 other Afrikaners founded the AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging/Afrikaner Resistance Movement).

When the HNP leadership found out that Terre'Blanche and Groenewald had secretly founded a new organisation they were both expelled and fired from their jobs as organisers.

Terre'Blanche worked as an insurance salesman in the town of Brits, Transvaal.

Early Militancy

In 1977 the South African government announced it was considering opening the Breyten Theatre, Pretoria, to all races. This angered Whites who believed that apartheid was appropriate. The Administrator of the Transvaal announced that opening public facilities (such as the state-owned Breyten Theatre) to all races was contradictory to the racial laws of the Apartheid regime.

A group of liberal White actors and actresses began to petition the government to open the theatre to all races. As they circulated their petition to the White public at a Pretoria shopping mall, Eugene Terre'Blanche and 35 other AWB members confronted them. The two groups exchanged a few angry words. Terre'Blanche and his posse then proceeded to rip all of the petition papers into tiny pieces. It was captured on film and became known as the first "militant" action undertaken by the AWB.

Incident at the UNISA

On March 28, 1979 Terre'Blanche and 40 other AWB members tarred and feathered a History Professor, Floors Van Jaarsveld, as he gave a lecture at the University of South Africa. Van Jaarsveld had upset the AWB by disputing the relevance of the Day of the Vow (a Christian Afrikaner holiday) in a modern society.

Terre'Blanche received a 600 Rand fine or 300 days imprisonment, and opted to pay the fine. An additional 9 men were also punished for assault and libel (known as crimen injuria in South African law), as well as two counts of damage to property (relating to the clothes of Van Jaarsveld and the carpet of the University of South Africa).

Arms trial

On December 11, 1982 Terre'Blanche and 8 other AWB members were arrested by the Security Branch of the South African Police and held under the terms of the Internal Security Act (section 27 of the Act allowed for the indefinite detention without trial and was most often used for ANC operatives). A police press statement was issued saying that arms, ammunition and explosives had been confiscated.

Several automatic firearms, hidden in waterproof containers and buried in maize fields, were recovered when the police used metal detectors and ploughed maize fields which they suspected had been used for the purposes of hiding illegal firearms.

Two of the original eight detainees were released, but Terre'Blanche and five others appeared, on December 24, 1982, at Pretoria Regional Court, charged under the Arms and Ammunition Act for illegal possession of weapons and explosives. The six men were granted bail of 1000 Rand each and released on January 21, 1983.

The trial was postponed until March 24, 1983, when the 6 men all plead not guilty to the following charges:

1.Possession of four AK-47 rifles and associated parts and possession of 17 R1 rifle magazines

2.Possession of a Makarov pistol

3.Possession of ammunition for the Marakov pistol

4.Possession of explosives (including one smoke grenade and a large quantity of tetriel explosive)

5.Possession of three tear gas canisters

On July 11, 1983 the trial was held, Major Nel of the Security Branch of the police testified that trunks containing AK-47 parts, camouflage uniforms (illegal for private possession in Apartheid South Africa) and ammunition on a farm belonging to Eugene Terre'Blanche's brother, Andries Terre'Blanche.

On November 4, 1983 the Judge passed sentence on the men, all of whom were convicted. Terre'Blanche was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for five years. The other men received sentences of three years and four years, all of the custodial sentences were suspended for five years.

The presiding Judge, Mr Van Dyck, remarked that the "community does not expect that such civilized, proper people as the accused be sent for a prison term".

In an earlier trial, also relating to illegal possession of arms and ammunition, Terre'Blanche and another man (who was already serving 15 years on yet another arms and ammunition conviction) were found guilty.

Magistrate E.D. Wythe, of Klerksdorp Regional Court, sentenced Terre'Blanche to 1 year's imprisonment for illegal possession of an AK-47 and to six months imprisonment for possession of 362 rounds of ammunition, both sentences were suspended for five years.

In addition Terre'Blanche was fined 300 Rand for possession of a Gecado .22 revolver.

In 1999 Terre'Blanche received amnesty for all of the above crimes [1].


In the 1980s the AWB, often under the direct leadership of Terre'Blanche, disrupted rallies and meetings held by the National Party across the northern Transvaal and Orange Free State. In one such incident police used teargas to evict 5000 violent AWB supporters from a meeting hall in Pietersburg (now Polokwane).

In 1988 AWB membership, and support, peaked. Estimates range from 5000 to 70000 members, Terre'Blanche claims that the actual peak in membership was in 1994 and that, by then, the AWB had 80000 active members. Between 1978 and 1994 a total of 104000 applications for membership were made.


Terre'Blanche and 2000 AWB supporters led a march on a National Party meeting being addressed by President DeKlerk on August 9, 1991 in Ventersdorp. In an ensuing gunfight 7 policemen were shot, 43 AWB members wounded (3 killed) and 15 innocent bystanders injured.


In 1994 the AWB were criticized in the international media for supporting the regime of Bantustan leader Lucas Mangope. It was alleged that the 750 AWB paramilitary members who went into Bophuthatswana shot and killed 5 or more innocent Black civilians.


In 1998 Terre'Blanche, and ex-AWB Deputy Leader Piet Rudolph, were granted amnesty for the tarring and feathering of Professor Van Jaarsveld, the illegal possession of arms and ammunition in 1982 and the Battle of Ventersdorp.

In an affidavit submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Terre'Blanche said he felt responsible, personally, for the bombings committed by AWB members.

Jail sentence

In 2000 Terre'Blanche was jailed for two attacks on an employee of his, who worked on his farm, and a gas station attendant in 1996. According to the gas station attendant, John Ndizma (who was interviewed for the documentary His Big White Self), Terre'Blanche made his dog attack him because John had told the police that a White youth had broken into the gas station pharmacy.

Terre'Blanche, allegedly drunk at the time, severely assaulted Paul Motshabe, an employee who worked on his farm, leaving his permanently paralysed.

There was big discrepancies in Motshabe's version of events. In the 2006 documentary His Big White Self, Motshabe's sister claimed that Terre'Blanche hit her brother with a revolver and then slammed his head in the door of a truck, while in court he claimed Terre'Blanche hit him with a metal pipe.

Terre'Blanche was, in March 2000, jailed for 7 years (1 year for the assault on John Ndizma and 6 years for the attempted murder of Paul Motshabe). Whilst incarcerated he was apparently a "model prisoner"[2] and was, accordingly, paroled in June 2004.

According to a senior aide to Terre'Blanche, Andre Visage, the legal system discriminated against Terre'Blanche while he was incarcerated. Another man, who was also a "model prisoner, convicted of similar crimes to Terre'Blanche was paroled after serving 50% of his sentence [3]. As such Terre'Blanche's 2003 parole application should have been accepted.

Due to financial pressure his wife sold his farm to cover legal costs.

Change of opinion

Following his release from jail, where he became a born-again Christian, Terre'Blanche reported that he had "moderated" his more extreme views. His lawyer issued a press statement saying that he was "no longer racist, more of a xenophobe who prefers his own kind". [4]

Reactivation of the AWB

In early 2008 Terre'Blanche announced he was intending to re-launch the AWB (which had very few members in post-Apartheid South Africa) due to pleas from whites who were scared, due to South Africa's crime rate.


Ironically, Terre'Blanche was murdered in the Spring of 2010 by two of his own employees following a dispute about wages. He is buried on his farm.