A black farm worker was found guilty today of murdering a white supremacist in rural South Africa.
Chris Mahlangu was convicted at a court in Ventersdorp, west of Johannesburg, of beating Eugene Terreblanche to death with an iron rod in April 2010.
Prosecutors rejected allegations that Mahlangu had been sexually abused by the 69-year-old.
A younger farm worker was acquitted of murder, but found guilty on other charges.
The verdict ends a case that has lasted two years and fanned racial tensions in Ventersdorp.
Protesters scuffled outside the courthouse where the verdict was read, as scores of white protesters gathered in support of Terreblanche’s family faced off against a larger crowd of black supporters of the accused.
But the tensions did not explode into broader violence, and the crowd showed little reaction to the verdict.
Police described Terreblanche’s murder as the climax of an alcohol-fuelled dispute over unpaid wages, but during the trial, defence lawyers alleged the farm workers had been abused by Terreblanche and acted in self defence.
The lawyers said their case was weakened by poor police work. A substance believed to have been semen that witnesses reported seeing on Terreblanche’s body apparently was not preserved as evidence.
The younger suspect, Patrick Ndlovu, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of breaking and entering with intent to steal. Ndlovu initially was not named because of his age. He turned 18 during the trial.
Terreblanche co-founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, known by its Afrikaans initials as the AWB, to seek an all-white republic within South Africa. His influence had waned by the time he died.
He was jailed in 1997 and sentenced to six years for the attempted murder of a black security guard and the assault of a black gas station worker.