SABC cameraman under scrutiny in Tatane case

Members of the South African Police Service. (AFP)

Members of the South African Police Service. (AFP)

Chomane was the second state witness to testify in the Ficksburg Regional Court in the trial of seven Free State police officers accused of assaulting and killing Tatane.

The officers each face murder and assault charges related to a march against poor service delivery in the Setsoto local municipality on April 13 2011.

Johann Nel, for the police officers, submitted that an investigator had said Chomane refused to make a statement to police after he was quoted in a news report on Tatane’s death.

Chomane did not reply and Nel asked him if he thought police were lying about his refusal.

Nel told the court Chomane agreed to make a statement only when he was faced with the possibility of being summonsed to appear before a magistrate to give his reasons.

Earlier, in evidence-in-chief, Chomane testified that he saw Tatane and a police officer in a fist fight.

Contradictions in testimony
During cross-examination, Nel pointed out what he described as contradictions in Chomane’s statement to investigators two months after Tatane’s death and his testimony on Monday.

Chomane questioned the accuracy of the news article in which he was quoted.

“No, the quote [‘shoot him’] is not correct,” he testified, adding that he only heard the word “shoot” and that the words “shoot him” were the reporter’s.

Nel asked Chomane why he did not tell the police what he had told the media about seeing something hitting Tatane’s back after a shot was fired.

Chomane said he was not asked.

“The whole point of the exercise was [about] a man being shot. You tell the court nobody asked,” Nel put it to him.

Chomane said the investigators had not asked the same questions as Nel.

Editing process
Two more state witnesses also testified about the SABC video footage.

They were the regional news editor of the SABC in the Free State, Richard Newton, and his assistant, Elsabe du Plessis.

Replying to questions, Newton explained to the court how the editing process for a television news story worked.

Du Plessis testified to the safe-keeping of the raw, unedited video material gathered by Chomane on the day of the incident.

The court has seen only unedited video material of the Tatane incident taken by a police cameraman and the SABC news bulletin coverage of the incident.

The SABC has declined to hand its unedited video tapes to investigators.

The trial continues. - Sapa


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