Investigators won’t confirm Ficksburg rubber bullets report

The Independent Complaints Directorate would not say today if protester Andries Tatane died of a rubber bullet wound, but confirmed that he had been shot dead.

“The post mortem had been done but we’ve not released the details, except to say that the post mortem confirms that he was shot dead,” said directorate spokesperson Moses Dlamini.

Asked if the shot wound was caused by a rubber bullet, Dlamini replied: “At this stage, we won’t say.”

He told Sapa by phone from the Ficksburg Magistrates Court that it could take anything from “a couple of weeks” to a “month or two” before the details of the post mortem were released.

“The case is still going to court,” said Dlamini.

Beeld newspaper reported today that two rubber bullets were removed from Tatane’s body during the post mortem, but Dlamini said the report was irresponsible.

Six policemen were to appear in court on assault and murder charges after Tatane’s death on Wednesday.

The case was moved from a courtroom in the Ficksburg District Court to the Regional Court this morning because the first courtroom was too small to accommodate everyone.

Tatane’s family and wife sat in the front row, as photographers snapped pictures of them.

Crowds had gathered outside the court building in the Free State town, and a court orderly had to go outside to ask them to quieten down and stop their singing and talking when the day’s court proceedings started.

A heavy police contingent kept watch as the court building’s gates were closed to prevent the noisy onlookers from entering the premises.

In a statement handed to journalists, the Meqheleng Concerned Citizens “pleaded” with the court not to grant bail to the six police officers.

“We are pleading with the entire world to join us in our call that the... six must not get bail,” the group wrote.

“We believe that their release on bail will further fuel the people’s anger and derail the course of negotiations.

“We count on the support and prayers of the nation at large. The blood of this fallen hero is enough.”

The group said Tatane was “defenceless and unarmed” when he was killed.

Earlier, a police vehicle transporting a water cannon drove through the streets of Ficksburg.

Tatane was allegedly killed by a group of policemen on Wednesday after challenging them to spray him with the water cannon.

The police officers allegedly shot Tatane and beat him during a peaceful service delivery protest.

SABC television footage showed a group of policemen beating Tatane with batons, after which he was seen holding his chest and looking down at blood on his chest.

Viewer discretion is advised.

He collapsed and died 20 minutes later.

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.

The protesters have given local government authorities until Thursday to meet their demands.

The six policemen were arrested on Saturday.

Four of them face charges of assault and two others face murder charges.

The African National Congress welcomed their arrests, but again criticised the media for broadcasting the footage of his death.

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