Protesters set buildings alight

2011-04-14 12:39

Two municipal buildings in Ficksburg, in eastern Free State, were set alight by rioters today over the killing of a man allegedly at the hands of the police.

“The home affairs building and the public works building was set alight at around 12.45pm,” said police spokesperson Captain Phumelelo Dlamini.

“We are not sure if anyone has been injured or if the buildings were evacuated in time,” he said.

The buildings were on different streets.

Dlamini said firefighters were on the scene and were trying to extinguish the flames.

“I’m also not sure if our members arrested anyone yet for arson,” he said.

Earlier, Dlamini described said the area as “calm” and said residents were in their homes.

At least 45 people were arrested for public violence yesterday.

Dlamini said no arrests had been made yet in connection with the murder of 33-year-old Andries Tatane, and it was not known when his funeral would take place.

He said Tatane’s family did not want to speak to the media and that the police were trying to protect them.

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) has sent a team of investigators to the area.

“Some were sent yesterday and we sent more today [Thursday],” said ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini.

“They will investigate and take statements from witnesses and police then an identity parade will be carried out,” he said.

Firearms would be sent for ballistics testing.

A report of the findings would be compiled and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a decision on whether to prosecute, he said.

It was not clear if the police officers accused of the crime had been suspended.

Earlier, the ANC said it wanted Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to probe the matter.

Spokesman Jackson Mthembu called on Mthethwa to institute an “immediate commission of inquiry”.

The party also expressed concern about the airing of the of the “shocking and disturbing images” of the killing on SABC television news.

“We therefore, also call upon the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to investigate whether the public broadcaster has not overstepped its mandate in this regard.”

Mthembu said no amount of wrongdoing by the protesters necessitated “such brutality and killing on the part of our law enforcement officers”.

Police allegedly fired rubber bullets into Tatane’s chest and then beat him with batons during a protest.

He was allegedly attacked by at least six police officers “simultaneously”, according to media reports.

He was seen holding his hand against his chest after the assault and collapsed about 20 minutes later. He died before the ambulance arrived.

The police confirmed that a man has been killed during the protest.

The residents of Meqheleng township were marching to the Ficksburg municipal offices to hand over a memorandum relating to service delivery issues when the incident took place.

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