Tatane ruling 'sends wrong message'

2013-03-28 22:31
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Johannesburg - Opposition parties voiced disappointment on Thursday at the acquittal of seven policemen in Ficksburg on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, this sends the message that the police can act with impunity," said Democratic Alliance justice spokesperson Debbie Schafer.

While the DA did not question the judgment, which acquitted the policemen accused of killing protester Andries Tatane, the party questioned who would be held accountable for his death.

"It would seem that the only possible remedy may be yet another civil claim against the police minister," Schafer said.

She said the DA would ask the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to explain the difficulties it had in prosecuting the policemen when it next appeared before the Justice Portfolio Committee. This was in the hope of avoiding similar outcomes in future cases.

Earlier, United Democratic Movement secretary general Bongani Msomi said the policemen's acquittal was a sad day for justice.

"It is said that justice is blind, but after having heard this verdict this phrase has new meaning," he said in a statement.

"Is this a sign of the times to come: violent individuals in our police service who violate human rights and are not punished?"

The UDM was shocked by the ruling and conveyed sympathy to the Tatane family, Msomi said.

Earlier, Ficksburg Regional Court magistrate Hein van Niekerk found the State could not prove its case of murder and assault beyond reasonable doubt.

Tatane died on 13 April 2011, after the police used rubber bullets and batons to subdue him during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg.

The case received huge media attention after footage of Tatane’s alleged assault by police was broadcast on television.

The court held that Tatane was not an innocent protester.

- SAPA
Read more on:    police  |  da  |  udm  |  debbie schafer  |  andries tatane  |  bloemfontein
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