In death 'Ramboer' will have more impact on politics
Published 05/04/2010 | 05:00
For all the dramatic oratory and the thunderous delivery of his speeches in his brief heyday, Eugene Terreblanche was to all intents and purposes a designer Boer whose significance as a pro-apartheid messiah was irredeemably compromised by a romp with a peroxide blonde.
Mr Terreblanche claimed to be a God-fearing defender of white christian morality. But, in December 1988, he was arrested at one of the sacred Boer monuments in some state of deshabille with a blonde journalist named Jani Allen.
It was the smart, image-conscious Ms Allen who persuaded Mr Terreblanche to exchange his ill-fitting black suits for designer camouflage outfits and who dubbed him 'Ramboer'. The scandal, and the subsequent court cases, damaged Mr Terreblanche's image among his own people.
Like most Afrikaner organisations through the white tribe's 350-year history, Mr Terreblanche's Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) was constantly in a state of argument. That lack of unity diminished its power as a truly radical group.
So, by the time I met him in the early 90s, in the volatile run-up to South Africa's first democratic elections, he had already been outflanked on his left by the Afrikaner Volksfront and on his right by any number of extreme splinter groups. We met for the first of several interviews in his office in Ventersdorp, a dull little farming town. A uniformed AWB foot soldier who led me to his office referred to Mr Terreblanche as 'The General', even though his only legitimate military rank was lance corporal in South Africa's citizen army.
Even as he was strutting around his office that day he was already yesterday's man. There is, however, one last memory I have of Ramboer. As he told me he was prepared to die for his beliefs, he pointed to the Boer generals' portraits on the wall and said: "In heaven, at least, I shall meet these great fighters. Isn't it wonderful?"
Ironically, in death, and particularly in the manner of his death, Mr Terreblanche may not only have achieved his greatest wish but may also have more impact on South African politics than he did in life. (© Daily Telegraph, London)