Tatane's death a hit, family believes

Johannesburg - The family of slain Ficksburg activist Andries Tatane believes that he was deliberately targeted and assassinated.

His death, after he was beaten and apparently shot by police, caused a national outcry when it was televised last week.

The father of two young boys - Tshepang,7, and 4-year-old Molefi - died of apparent bullet wounds after public order policing unit members were filmed beating him as he was leading a community protest march in the Free State town.

It is believed he tried to stop police from using water cannons against protesters near the Setsoto local municipality’s offices before the attack.

"We want the truth to come out about who shot and killed him and for what, because there is a bullet wound in his chest," said his sister, Seipati, and wife, Mmalehlohonolo.

“We do not have any answers yet, but we do believe that he was killed because of his criticism of the municipality over its lack of service delivery and his political prominence.

"People listened to and followed him because he spoke openly against the council and challenged it," they said.


Tatane was once an ANC member, but he left the party in 2008 to join the Congress of the People.

Recently he left Cope and got involved in the independent Meqheleng Concerned Citizens (MCC) group, a community movement fighting for service delivery in the town.

“I have always warned him to stay away from politics, because one day it would lead to trouble.

But I want those police who are responsible for his death to pay for what they have done.

"They must come here and see what they have done to our two children," said Mmalehlohonolo.

"He was their provider and now they are left with no one to look up to. He was their teacher – even our son who is four years old, started speaking English early."

Tatane used local radio station Setsoto FM Setshaba as a platform to openly criticise councillors and the municipality for poor service delivery.

Station manager Teboho Lephuthing said: "He participated in our current-affairs programme and fiercely took on councillors.  Many people believed in him and what he was fighting for as part of the community."

Water cannon

A witness, Mathabo Baatjies, said Tatane was attacked by police officers when he tried to explain to them that there were elderly people taking part in the protest and that they should not use water cannons to disperse them.

“There was chaos after someone who was inside the municipal offices threw a stone at protesters, who were being addressed after they submitted a memorandum to the municipality.

Some people reacted and then police started spraying them with water cannons,” he said.

Tatane tried to reason with the police, "but they attacked him even though he had held up his hands, showing that he was not fighting".

"They started beating him and he tried to defend himself, but that did not help, and then he was shot.

"No one heard a shot, but someone said 'shoot him'. I do not know who shot him, though,” said Baatjies.

Tatane tutored pupils from the local schools and also professionals who were finishing their studies through correspondence.

His death enraged the community, and his pupils went on the rampage and set fire to the library and home affairs building.


They also blocked off entrances to the township with burning tyres, bricks and blocks of wood.

Tatane’s MCC group handed the Setsoto Municipality a memorandum in which they made 29 demands, including a constant and reliable water supply; repairs to the sewerage system; regular waste removal; water meter installations; street lights; transparency in the municipality’s finances; and the dismissal of officials responsible for the poor water supply.

On Friday Co-operative Governance MEC Mamiki Qabathe visited the Tatane family and said the community had lost a committed leader and teacher.

Qabathe was locked in meetings with municipal and Meqheleng Concerned Residents representatives on the day that Tatane was killed.
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