Roelof and Laura du Plessis, a married couple with four children who live on a heavily fortified farm outside Pretoria were the latest victims of the race war in South Africa. Hearing noises outside their home, Mr du Plessis, 46, got out of bed and ran outside. To his horror, he found his 19-year-old son being held with a gun to his head by a gang of five armed black attackers. Father and son were ordered to lie on the ground. The invaders did not ask for money or the keys to the expensive vehicles in the drive. They were there only to terrorise and kill. Hearing voices outside, Laura, 44, came out of her bedroom to investigate — and her torch illuminated an awful scene as the gang pointed guns at her husband. Her son managed to get up and sprint off into the darkness when the men were confused by the flashlight. But Du Plessis was not so lucky. The intruders opened fire at once, shooting him six times through the throat, lungs and abdomen. As he writhed on the ground in agony, the men ran off into the night leaving empty bullet cartridges littering the yard. ‘It is definitely coming down to a race thing,’ Laura du Plessis told me as she was comforted by her family. ‘They hate white people. We have never had a fight with any black people. I always stop and give others a lift. We employ black people. ‘My husband fought for me. I am grateful that he wasn’t tied up and forced to watch me being raped before he was killed. He was an amazing man. He was my life.’ A friend of the family, who asked not to be named, told me he was certain that the killings are part of a sinister, systematic bid to drive white people — and, in particular, farmers — out of South Africa. ‘If this was happening in any other country, the military would be deployed to protect us,’ said the friend. ‘There are gangs moving around the country targeting white people.’ The statistics — and the savagery of the killings — appear to support claims by these residents that white people, and farmers in particular, are being targeted by black criminals. Last month alone there were 25 murders of white landowners, and more than 100 attacks, while Afrikaner protest groups claim that more than 4,000 have been killed since Mandela came to power. It is not just the death toll, but the extreme violence that is often brought to bear, that causes the greatest fear in the white community. Documented cases of farm killings make for gruesome reading, with children murdered along with their parents, one family suffocated with plastic bags and countless brutal rapes of elderly women and young children. A disturbing number of whites are terrified that Mandela’s passing will lead to an outpouring of violence from black South Africans, no longer contained by the sheer power of the great man’s presence, which endures today even though he stood down as president in 1999.