Leader of the
1970 – 1997
|Born||January 31, 1941
Ventersdorp, South Africa
|Occupation||former police officer (SAP)|
|Religion||Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk (APK)|
Eugène Ney Terre'Blanche (born January 31, 1941) is a Boer-Afrikaner who founded the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging during the apartheid era in South Africa. Terre'Blanche remains leader of the recently reactivated AWB and continues to push for an Afrikaner secessionist state within South Africa.
The progenitor of the Terre'Blanche name ('white land' in French) in the region was a French Huguenot refugee named Estienne Terreblanche from Toulon (Provence), France, who arrived at the Cape in 1704. The Terreblanche name has generally retained its original spelling though other spellings include Terre'Blanche, Terre Blanche, Terblanche and Terblans.
Eugene Terre'Blanche's grandfather fought for the Boer cause as a Cape Rebel in the Second Boer War, and his father was a lieutenant colonel in the South African Defence Force. Born in Ventersdorp, Terre'Blanche later became an officer in the South African Police, even being a Warrant Officer in the Special Guard Unit, who were assigned to members of the Cabinet.
During the late 1960s, Terre'Blanche increasingly opposed what he called the "liberal policies" of B. J. Vorster, then Prime Minister of South Africa. In 1970, Terre'Blanche, with six other Afrikaners, founded the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, commonly known as the AWB. His oratorical skills earned him much support among the white right wing in South Africa; the AWB claimed 70,000 members at its height.
Terre'Blanche viewed the end of apartheid as a surrender to communism, and threatened full scale civil war if President FW de Klerk handed power to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. When De Klerk addressed a meeting in Terre'Blanche's hometown of Ventersdorp in 1991, Terre'Blanche led a protest, and the Battle of Ventersdorp ensued between the AWB and the police, with a number of people killed.
Terre'Blanche and the AWB were seldom out of the media during the 1980s and first half of the 1990s. Terre'blanche's powerful oratory and apocalyptic images of race war often featured, with the image of heavily armed AWB members parading in uniform, sometimes hooded. However, this image of the rise of the far right was not the only image projected by the media, which increasingly ridiculed Terre'Blanche and his supporters.
Terre'Blanche was lampooned in the 1991 documentary The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife, directed by British filmmaker Nick Broomfield. A sequel by Broomfield, His Big White Self, was first broadcast in February 2006. Terre'Blanche was also interviewed by Louis Theroux in the episode 3.3 Boer separatists of the BBC series Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends.
In 1988, the AWB was beset by scandal when claims of an affair with journalist Jani Allan surfaced. In July 1989, Cornelius Lottering member of breakaway AWB group Orde van die Dood, orchestrated a failed assassination attempt on Allan's life by placing a bomb outside her Sandton apartment. Broomfield's 1991 documentary claimed that Terre'Blanche had an affair with the Sunday Times journalist; a claim she denied as well as her portrayal in the documentary. This led to Allan taking libel proceedings against the documentary broadcaster Channel 4 in 1992 in the London High Court. During the trial, several transcripts of their alleged sexual relationship appeared in the South African and British press. Terre'Blanche also submitted a sworn statement to the London court denying that he had had an affair with Allan. Although the judge found that Channel 4's allegations had not defamed Allan, he did not rule on whether or not there had been an affair.
Terre'Blanche was widely ridiculed after he was filmed falling off his horse during a parade in Pretoria.
In 2004, he was voted no.25 in SABC3's Great South Africans, a list of 100 of South Africa's favourite personalities according to the public. His presence amongst others such as Hendrik Verwoerd triggered a national debate. The controversy led to the cancellation of the SABC television series.
In his book "Warfare by Other Means," author Peter Stiff alleges that Terre'Blanche was covertly working for the police force, and later military intelligence, to expose right wing forces' strategies and personalities.
Following the end of apartheid, Terre'Blanche and his supporters sought amnesty for the storming of the World Trade Centre, the 'Battle of Ventersdorp', and other acts. Amnesty was granted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
On June 17, 1997 Terre'Blanche was sentenced to six years in prison for assaulting a petrol station worker and the attempted murder of a security guard. One of only three whites in the Rooigrond prison near Mafikeng, during his time in prison he became a born-again Christian and claims he has moderated many of his more racist views. Terre'Blanche was released on June 11, 2004 and the AWB website claims these court cases and other scandals involving him were fabricated by the 'Black Government and the left wing media'.
Outside of his political career, Terre'Blanche has also been known for his poetry. Prior to the 1994 multi-racial elections, his Afrikaans-language works were on the state syllabus of Natal schools. Although upon his release from jail, he quoted Wordsworth's poem I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud. He has previously released a CD of his poetry collection and most recently a DVD.
In March 2008, the AWB announced the re-activation of the political party, for 'populist' reasons, citing the encouragement of the public. Reasons for the return are largely attributed to the electricity crisis, corruption across government departments and rampant crime.. Throughout April 2008, Terre'Blanche was to be the speaker at several AWB rallies, encompassing Vryburg, Middelburg, Mpumalanga and Pretoria.
He has recently been calling for a “free Afrikaner republic” and has vowed to take his campaign to the United Nations' International Court of Justice in The Hague in a bid to secure this. In June 2008, it was announced that the AWB Youth Wing would be launched, Terre'Blanche would be its founding member. 
In September 2009 he addressed a 3-day convention attended by 300 Afrikaners, the convention was intended to develop a strategy for Boer liberation. Terre'Blanche reinforced earlier claims for land in Northern Natal and the Eastern Transvaal.