Ficksburg protesters torch buildings

Two municipal buildings in Ficksburg, in the eastern Free State, were set alight by rioters on Thursday after the killing of a man allegedly by 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.

Warning: The following video contains graphic violence

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.

No arrests had been made yet in connection with the murder of 33-year-old Andries Tatane, who was the breadwinner of his family and had one child.

Arrested for public violence
But 45 people were arrested for public violence on Wednesday and around 200 people converged at the Ficksburg Magistrates Court on Thursday, singing and toyi-toying, demanding their release.

Leading the march, Lereko Manako, of the Concerned Citizens of Meqheleng forum, said they would not leave until their members were freed.

He said scores of residents were injured in Thursday’s protest when police opened fire on them.

“People were trampled and hurt in the commotion and we don’t even know if it was live ammunition or rubber bullets.”

He was aware of the fire a few roads away and dismissed SABC reports that learners had started it.

“We only have adults protesting, not children.”

Manako was also mandated to speak on behalf of the Tatane family.

“The family are really, really sad and distraught and it’s a terrible situation. They are angry and we are giving them time to now sought out funeral arrangements.”

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

“Some were sent yesterday [Wednesday] 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.”

Firearms would be sent for ballistics testing.

A report of the findings would be compiled and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions 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 and 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 South Africa to investigate whether the public broadcaster has not overstepped its mandate in this regard,” said spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

Police allegedly fired rubber bullets into Tatane’s chest and then beat him with batons during a service delivery protest in the Meqheleng township.

He was allegedly attacked by at least six policemen 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. — Sapa

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