Witness grilled on Tatane testimony
Ficksburg - The testimony of the State's first witness in the murder and assault trial of seven Free State policemen came under scrutiny in the Ficksburg regional court on Tuesday.
Cross-examining local teacher Phillip Selokoe on his evidence in chief, the policemen's defence counsel Johann Nel spent most of Tuesday pointing out discrepancies in his testimony.
Nel's questioning as he tested Selokoe's version of events at times led to murmurs and sighs of frustration among the spectators crowded into the small courtroom.
The State has alleged that Andries Tatane tried to protect elderly people from the police’s water cannon by moving between it and two old men.
It claimed that two of the policemen fired rubber bullets at Tatane at close range.
According to the indictment, one of the rubber bullets was fired directly at his chest and penetrated his chest cavity.
The State has further alleged that the policemen did not try to arrest Tatane, but let him go and he staggered away, collapsed and died.
The indictment indicated that Tatane died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
The policemen have rejected all allegations against them and deny that they acted unlawfully.
On Tuesday, the policemen's defence counsel at various times submitted to the court that Selokoe was an elusive witness when asked about the crowd’s behaviour on the day of the incident.
Nel submitted that Selokoe could not have seen what objects were thrown from the roof of the municipal buildings before the situation became out of hand.
After Selokoe indicated his position on photos of the scene, Nel argued that the Meqheleng Concern Citizens' leader would not have been unable to see the flying objects.
"The photos show objectively that it was not possible," said Nel, adding that Selokoe's testimony in this regard was a fabrication.
The court earlier heard that an apple thrown from the municipal building hit a bakkie in front of the crowd and that a empty 500ml plastic cold-drink squeeze bottle landed in the crowd.
Nel also questioned Selokoe's testimony that he heard Tatane asking the police's water cannon operator to spray him instead of two older men standing to one side.
"You could hear what Tatane said, amongst all the commotion of people running away and police shooting teargas and rubber bullets?" asked Nel.
Selokoe said he had, but Nel indicated that it was highly improbable with the commotion on the ground.
Before the sitting was adjourned for the day, Nel started to question Selokoe about his version of the assault on Tatane by the police.
The case continues on Wednesday.