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Apr 13 2012 7:01PM
Ficksburg remembers Andries Tatane
Ficksburg remembere Andries Tatane. Picture: Gallo Images
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Phuti Mosomane and Sapa

As we celebrate Freedom Day on April 27, various memorial events for Free State protester Andries Tatane who was killed during a service delivery protest a year ago, take place in Ficksburg this weekend.

The Meqheleng Concerned Citizens (MCC) group held the first commemoration in the Ficksburg town hall on Friday afternoon.

Police officers allegedly fired rubber bullets at Tatane's chest and beat him with batons during a service delivery protest, in front of the offices of the Setsoto local municipality in Ficksburg, on April 12 last year. Residents had marched from the nearby Meqheleng township. The violence was recorded and broadcast on national television.

Tatane, a teacher, who was not wearing a shirt, was bleeding from the chest after the beating. He collapsed about 20 minutes later.

On Friday, the Ficksburg town hall was packed with local residents for the event, which included a memorial service and a speech by the local mayor.

Recently appointed Free State co-oporative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements MEC, Olly Mlamleli, addressed the crowd. A group of ANC Women's League members in their green uniforms were also present.

The Congress of the People (Cope) would remember Tatane at a meeting in at the Mapenyalira hall in Meqheleng on Saturday. Cope parliamentary leader Mosiuoa Lekota and the Tatane family would speak to residents, the party said.

The trial against eight police officers charged with assaulting and killing Tatane was expected to start in the Ficksburg Regional Court in two weeks.

UCT recognised Tatane

Andries Tatane was not a trouble maker, Prof Crain Soudien said during a protest organised by the Students Representative Council at the University of Cape Town recently.

He said Tatane, who was killed during recent service delivery protests in Ficksburg, was a student at the university in 1998. The university executive wished to place on record its dismay and disappointment with what happened in Ficksburg.

“On an emotional level we are saddened because Andries Tatane was one of our own. He was a student here in engineering in 1998. But whether he was a student here or not, should not determine whether and how we express ourselves in this matter,” he said.

Soudien said as ordinary people they were outraged at what happened in Ficksburg. The university, he said was a special place. “Its primary function, particularly a public university, is to prepare all of us to uphold and to exemplify the values of a democracy.

“It’s a place where we practise, every day, what it means to live and behave in democratic kinds of ways. Central to this is unconditional respect for others, the unconditional right of people to associate with whom they want, their unconditional right to dignity, and critically, their unconditional right to express themselves freely.

“Why is this so important? Because it allows us to be different and to know, in our differences, that we will never be punished because of this.

“People might not like the way I look, what I say, but they will defend my right to be different. “We build trust in each other this way. I need to trust that you won’t hit me when you disagree with me,” Soudien said.

One of the purposes of a university was to understand how societies worked with these values, to understand through teaching and research, how these rights can be deepened and to understand what happened when these rights were placed under threat. He said where these rights were threatened, people should speak out. “This is what we tried to do during the dark days of apartheid. But it also needs to be what we ought to be doing now. 

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