Tatane family, witness in tears

2012-04-23 22:37
Ficksburg - The family of Ficksburg protester Andries Tatane was in tears in the Ficksburg Regional Court on Monday when a State witness recalled the day he died.

Regional Magistrate Hein van Niekerk adjourned the sitting to give State witness Philip Selokoe time to compose himself after he started crying while testifying.

Van Niekerk was hearing evidence in the murder and assault trial of seven Free State policemen accused of murdering Tatane, who was a local resident and teacher.

Tatane was killed in Ficksburg during a service delivery protest, allegedly by public order police, on April 13 last year.

Video footage showed riot police beating Tatane during the march to the Setsoto municipal offices in town. Over several days, roads were blocked with stones, and bricks and tyres set alight.

The State handed the indictment to the court on Monday, in which all seven policemen face charges of both murder and assault. The officers pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Selokoe, who was the State's first witness, testified how the Meqheleng Concerned Citizens (MCC) group was formed and the reasons for this.

Selokoe, who was MCC deputy chairperson, testified that the civic group was not a formal civic organisation.

Tatane was an ordinary member and had joined Meqheleng residents in a protest march on the day he was killed.

Selokoe said a riot broke out in front of the municipality’s office after an apple and a plastic bottle were thrown into the crowd from the second floor of the building.

Moments before Tatane was beaten by seven to eight policemen, he tried to convince the operator of a police water cannon to spray him, rather than two old men.

"Tatane told police with the water cannon they should not spray old people with water, but him," Selokoe testified.

He said Tatane had his hands in the air and was not wearing his shirt.

The court heard that a "misunderstanding" developed between Tatane and the police, and that he received a "deadly blow" before he started to fight back.

Selokoe said the police assaulted Tatane until he was on his knees. They continued to mercilessly hit and push him, he said.

It was during this testimony that Tatane’s wife Rose and other family members burst into tears.

Selokoe himself failed to hold back his tears and the court was adjourned for a short while.

Earlier, the State withdrew all charges against an eighth policeman, Kanathasen Munsamay, and he was excused from court.

Under cross-examination, Selokoe testified that Tatane was a peaceful person.

Replying to questions Johann Nel, for the policemen, Selokoe said he could not testify about what Tatane had done before the riot developed.

The first time he saw Tatane was when he was wet, shirtless and with his arms in the air in front of the water cannon.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    andries tatane  |  bloemfontein
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