Bail denied to Tatane's alleged killers

The eight policemen accused of killing protester Andries Tatane were refused bail in the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) said.

The court ordered that two of the accused who suffer from diabetes be detained in a facility that would ensure they receive medication, ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini said.

Members of Tatane’s family were seen hugging after the decision.

Following the death of Andries Tatane after police allegedly beat and shot him, Police Commisioner Bheki Cele visited his family home in Ficksburg to offer his condolences.

The case was postponed to June 2 for further investigation.

The accused were Nicodemus Israel Moiloa, Mothusi Magano, Mphonyana Ntaje, Olebogeng Mphirime, Solomon Moeketsi, Jonas Skosana, Kanathasen Munsamay and Isaac Finger.

Charges included murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Outside court, hundreds of singing protesters from the Concerned Citizens of Meqheleng opposed bail.

“We are really very happy that they were refused bail and we will be back in huge numbers on June 2 in support of the Tatane family,” the group’s leader Lereko Manako said.

Earlier, he said there had been an exchange of insults between police monitoring the situation and protesters.

“The situation could have gotten out of hand but it didn’t. The problem is that the police were intimidating and making the situation problematic,” he said.

“So there were insults but it wasn’t violent.”

Police were unable to immediately comment on the matter.

Sporting T-shirts with 33-year-old Tatane’s photo on them, the crowd threatened to go on the rampage if the accused officers were granted bail.

A day after Tatane’s death on April 13, Ficksburg was tense as angry protesters set alight two municipal buildings. No injuries were reported and the fire was later contained.

On the same day, another crowd from the same community gathered at the local court demanding the release of protesters who were arrested during the service delivery protest in which Tatane was killed.

Police allegedly fired rubber bullets into Tatane’s chest and then beat him with batons during the protest in the Meqheleng township. Their actions were recorded and broadcast on national television.

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

He had apparently confronted the policemen about firing a water cannon at an elderly man.

His murder was widely condemned by political parties, trade unions and civil society.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said police brutality in South Africa was a concern that needed to be addressed. He made reference to Tatane’s murder and that of Jeanette Odendaal in Kempton Park.

“We cannot have this culture from police,” he told reporters at Luthuli House.

“I must make it clear that we don’t want people exercising violence on protesters. We condemn it totally. Tatane was just protesting when they beat him to death. It is his right to protest. This is unacceptable and the police will have to correct this way.”

Odendaal (45) was shot dead, allegedly by a police sergeant, after she crashed into a police van while trying to park her car outside the Kempton Park police station on Tuesday night.

The officer, Manape Phineas Kgoale (38) appeared in the Kempton Park Regional Court on Friday and had his case postponed to May 4 for bail application.

Police National Commissioner General Bheki Cele this week announced that the country’s 8 500 crowd control police officers would get a refresher course in handling protests.—Sapa

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