Five thousand angry, khaki-clad farmers threatened Thursday to go to war if any more white farmers are slain as a result of calls for violence by South Africa's black liberation movements.
The white farmers, some armed with pistols, marched through Potchefstroom carrying South African and Boer homeland flags before gathering to hear speaker after speaker blame President Frederik W. de Klerk's government for spiraling violence.
At least six farmers or their wives have been killed since the April 10 assassination of black South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani unleashed a wave of black outrage in which at least 90 people, most of them blacks, have died.
The farmers came to the rally in the conservative western Transvaal town from throughout South Africa to discuss security concerns. Right-wing white politicians said it was a show of muscle to back their demand for an autonomous state.
Speakers at the rally blamed Peter Mokaba, leader of the anti-apartheid African National Congress' Youth League, for exhorting followers to "Kill the Boers, kill the farmers." Mokaba has described the chant as no more than rhetoric.
Gen. Constand Viljoen, former head of the South African Defense Force and one of four former generals being sought by conservative whites to unite the divided right wing, denounced plans for joint control of the defense force by the government and black opposition groups.
"I speak on behalf of each of you serving in the Defense Force--if it happens that the security forces are placed under the control of such a body before there is a new constitution, then there will be trouble."
He told the rally that multi-party negotiations over South Africa's government should be halted.
"We must stop the negotiation process and go back to the drawing board to ensure that the people responsible take control of the terrorist armies.
"We need a climate of peace before we can negotiate, let alone hold elections," he declared.
The ANC and the radical Pan Africanist Congress are two of 26 groups taking part in multi-party democracy talks on South Africa's transition from white-minority to majority rule, due to resume near Johannesburg today.
"If one more farmer is murdered as a result of calls from ANC and PAC leaders, we will regard it as a declaration of war. We will use all powers at our disposal to defend ourselves as if in a war situation," the farmers said in a declaration.