The youth leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress says he will abide by a party directive to stop singing an anti-apartheid song that has been linked by some to the murder last week of a white supremacist. The announcement comes amid tense preparations for the farmer's funeral on Friday.
African National Congress Youth Wing Leader Julius Malema said he would accept a request by the ANC leadership to stop singing, "Shoot the Boer," which was recently banned as hate speech by a South African court.
"The ANC has ruled on the matter and we are accepting the decision of the ANC, but we are not accepting the decision of the court. We are continuing to challenge the matter in court," said Malema.
Malema said he would substitute the offending words with another phrase, but continue to sing it.
The phrase refers to white Afrikaners who settled in South Africa centuries ago and dominated society during the apartheid years. It emerged during the sometimes violent struggle against apartheid.
Some politicians have linked the song to the murder last Saturday of the leader of the white-supremacist Afrikaner Resistance Movement, Eugene Terre'Blanche.
Terre'Blanche was bludgeoned to death reportedly over a pay dispute on his farm west of Johannesburg. Two black farm workers have been arrested.
Police were obliged to erect razor wire between blacks and whites during a tense standoff Tuesday outside the courthouse where the two suspects were charged with murder.
A heavy security presence has been deployed to the town of Ventersdorp where Terre'Blanche is to be buried on Friday.
Terre'Blanche's group, known as the AWB, opposed ending apartheid and staged bomb attacks in the years leading to the country's first democratic elections in 1994.
The AWB blames Malema for Terre'Blanche's death, the latest of some 3000 murders of white farmers since the end of apartheid. It wants the government to stop the attacks.
The ANC says it considers the song part of its anti-apartheid struggle and will appeal the court ruling.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe Wednesday announced that the party's senior leaders had urged members to stop singing the song.
"The message that we have communicated to all our brothers including Malema himself as president of the Youth League is that, 'Restrain yourselves. Don't put yourself in a position where you become scapegoats for other agendas,'" said Mantashe.
He said such restraint will allow society to see through what he called the attempt by right-wing groups to reverse the progress made since the end of apartheid.
Although many South Africans feel the controversy has been inflamed by extremists on both sides of the issue, it has sparked intense debate.
An AWB official Wednesday stormed off a live television program after threatening a black guest with an opposing view on the issue.
And Malema during his news conference Thursday hurled insults at a white reporter and expelled him for a question he felt was an affront.