The cameraman who captured images of the assault and shooting of Andries Tatane says he heard an order to shoot seconds before the first bullet hit Tatane in the back.
Filane Chomane, who is based at the SABC’s Bloemfontein office, said a man in plain clothes who had a video camera told police officers to “arrest the shirtless man (Tatane)”.
This was during the service delivery protest march to the offices of the Setsoto local muncipality on April 13.
Chomane’s revelations came after Tatane’s family said they suspected he was targeted and killed because of his criticism of the municipality.
Eight policemen have been arrested in connection with his death.
Chomane, who filmed the march from the Meqheleng township into town, said it had been a peaceful protest until police pounced on Tatane.
He said trouble started outside the municipality offices in Ficksburg where officials accepted a memorandum from the marchers.A municipal official tried to address the crowd, but they would not listen.
As he was watching the proceedings, Chomane noticed a group of riot policemen standing next to an armoured car.
“Then I heard the man, who was filming with a video camera, tell the police officers to arrest the man who was not wearing a shirt. At that time I did not know that the shirtless man was Tatane,” he said.
“I was suspicious because Tatane was not posing any danger. So I rolled the camera and filmed the police.
They apprehended him, but he broke loose.
“They beat him up with batons and he tried to fight back but they were beating him so badly. Then I heard somebody say: ‘Shoot him!’ I heard the shot and saw something hit his back. He raised his hands,” Chomane said.
“As he tried to walk, he fell. One guy who was wearing a soccer shirt held him in his arms. He was frantically calling out for help. He was saying: ‘Hey, please help! Tatane is dying!’
“When the ambulance took him away I could tell that he was already dead. People were crying.“That attack was the worst I’ve seen in my career,” said Chomane, who has been a cameraman for more than 15 years.
I felt bad afterwards. I wished I could have intervened to stop the beating because he was not posing any danger to the police. Even when they were beating him up he was not saying anything.”