Widow, Rose Tatane and relatives arriving at the magistrates court in Ficksburg. Picture: Gallo Images
Phuti Mosomane and Sapa
The trial of seven Free State policemen accused of murdering and assaulting protester Andries Tatane was set to continue in the Ficksburg regional court on Tuesday.
Counsel for the policemen, Johann Nel, was expected to continue with the cross examination of a teacher colleague of Tatane, Philip Selokoe, who witnessed Tatane's severe assault by police.
Tatane was killed in Ficksburg during a service delivery protest, allegedly by public order police, on April 13 last year.
Video footage showed riot police beating Tatane during the march to the Setsoto municipal offices in town.
Over several days, roads were blocked with stones and bricks, and tyres set alight.
The State handed an indictment to court in which all seven policemen face charges of murder and assault.
The policemen pleaded not guilty to all counts.
On Monday, Regional Magistrate Hein van Niekerk heard a misunderstanding developed between Tatane and a policeman who grabbed and dragged him to a police vehicle. He also received a deadly blow before he started to fight back with seven to eight policemen with batons.
Selokoe said police assaulted him until he was on the ground on his knees.
They continued to hit and push him mercilessly, he testified.
Tatane's wife, Rose, and other family members were in tears during this testimony. Neither could Selokoe hold back his tears while testifying.
The court was adjourned for a short while for them to compose themselves.
The State withdrew all charges against the eighth policeman Kanathasen Munsamay and he was excused from court.
Meanwhile a small group from different organisations marched to the Harare police station in Khayelitsha on Sunday in memory of Andries Tatane. The peaceful protest against police brutality evoked the memory of Tatane, a community activist who died in the hands of police.
Tatane's death also sparked the formation of civic movement called "We are all Andries Tatane", in the mould of the Egyptian liberation group "We are all Khaled Said". The march commemorating Tatane's death was led by Pastor Xola Skhosana of The Way of Life Church in Makhaya, Khayelitsha.
A memorandum voicing the community's concerns over ongoing police brutality was handed over. "This is not a political act. We are here because we are all Andries Tatane. We feel the pain he went through when he died," said Skhosana.
But Mncedisi Thwalo, of Sounds of the South, was more blunt. "The apartheid system is not dead. We are not going to tolerate the behaviour of the police who kill our people. Some here (referring to police) are deployed because of politics. We are going to demolish the entire police station if we are not taken seriously," said Thwalo