South African police have broken up a plot by white supremacists to plant explosives in black townships, the police minister says, just a month after the murder of a prominent white separatist. Minister Nathi Mthethwa also promised that extremists would not be allowed to disrupt the soccer World Cup, which is due to start in June and expected to draw 300 000 foreign visitors.
Sixteen years after the end of apartheid, Africa’s largest economy still struggles to overcome racial divisions, especially in rural communities. Tensions rose again last month when separatist leader Eugene Terre’blanche was murdered on his farm over an apparent wage dispute with workers. Members of his Afrikaner Resistance Movement initially made threats of revenge that they later retracted.
“Police swept in a number of areas and some of the people had caches of arms and ammunition, paraphernalia,” Mthethwa told reporters about raids last month. “In Pretoria, for instance, some of the people that were arrested were planning to…go test some of that explosives in any black township,” Mthethwa said.
Mthethwa, who declined to provide details of how many people were arrested or their intended targets, said some were believers in a whites-only “volkstaat”, or republic. In 2002, then president Thabo Mbeki blamed extremists for 10 bomb blasts that killed a woman and wounded two others. Nine of the bombs exploded in Soweto, South Africa’s biggest black township.
Mthethwa said the extremists were not a threat to the state and there would be no disruptions to the World Cup. “Nobody will disrupt the World Cup, they won’t do that because we are monitoring everything in the country.”
Pic: Slain Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugene Terre’Blanche, allegedly murdered by two employees over a pay dispute.