/ 20 May 2011

Cops in Tatane assault case granted bail

The eight policemen accused of shooting and assaulting protester Andries Tatane during a protest in Ficksburg have been granted bail in Bloemfontein.

The eight policemen accused of shooting and assaulting protester Andries Tatane during a service delivery protest at Ficksburg were granted bail in the Bloemfontein High Court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed on Friday.

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) has charged four of them with murder and six others faced a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The eight men filed an urgent appeal against a Ficksburg Regional Court decision, which denied them bail.

The application was heard on Thursday and judgment was delivered on Friday. The men were released on conditional bail of R1 000 each.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the authority accepted the court’s ruling and that whatever outstanding investigations still had to be done could be conducted without interference from them.

“We wish to emphasise that this has no bearing on the strength of the state’s case.”

Mhaga urged the Ficksburg community to exercise patience and to allow the “wheels of justice” to turn. The NPA would work tirelessly to ensure that justice was served.

The Ficksburg regional court postponed the matter to June 2 for further investigation.

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

On April 13 police in Ficksburg allegedly fired rubber bullets into Tatane’s chest and then beat him with batons during a service delivery protest in front of the offices of the Setsoto local municipality 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. — Sapa