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The murder and assault trial of seven public order policemen in the Ficksburg Regional Court was postponed to August on Friday.
Magistrate Hein van Niekerk put the matter off to August 6 for the policemen’s defence counsel to finish the cross-examination of State witness Constable Kabelo Pule.
Earlier, Van Niekerk heard Pule had an axe to grind with police.
The past week saw the court hearing evidence from several witnesses in the trial of the policemen charged with the death of Ficksburg protester Andries Tatane.
The officers each face murder and assault charges for killing Tatane during a march against poor service delivery in the Setsoto local municipality on April 13, 2011.
Pule’s cross examination on Friday by Johann Nel, for the policemen, focused on testimony Pule gave during the internal police disciplinary hearing of the same officers.
Nel said Pule testified in the disciplinary hearing that Tatane was overpowering a policeman when the other officers rushed in to help him.
“You told the court (Ficksburg Regional Court) it was an unprovoked, brutal attack on Tatane (in evidence in chief).”
Nel asked Pule why he had changed his opinion.
Pule said he looked at the videos of the protest long ago when he was questioned by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD, now known as the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), and then again in the local court when shown to him by the State.
“You changed your opinion because you have an axe to grind with police due to wrongful actions within the police.”
Pule told the court he was confused because the previous day Nel apologised for comments on his suspension.
Nel agreed, but submitted that Pule told the court he was a suspended cop and that he had appealed against his own suspension.
Pule confirmed this and Nel asked why he was suspended.
Pule declined to reply, saying he was not there to talk about his suspension.
“I will not hold a debate over my suspension because all is still hanging.”
Nel submitted that Pule was being investigated for armed robbery and that the criminal case was before a court.
The State opposed Nel's questioning on Pule's suspension and Van Niekerk ruled that Pule did not have to answer the policemen's counsel on this.
Nel submitted that Pule never appealed against his suspension and subsequent dismissal.
Pule answered that this was not his information.
Nel put it to Pule that he gave the court another version of a scuffle between police and Tatane because he was fired by the police.
“This is the reason why you changed your opinion so much.” Pule said he could not see the difference.
Nel invited Pule again to look at the videos, which he accepted.
Before the lunch break the court was again looking through the three videos before the court, as requested by Pule.
The State alleges that Tatane tried to protect elderly people from the police's water cannon by moving between the cannon and two elderly men.
It contends that two of the accused fired rubber bullets from a very close range at Tatane.
One of the shots was fired directly at his chest and the rubber bullet penetrated his chest cavity, the indictment reads.
The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.
The policemen deny all allegations against them and deny that they acted unlawfully, as set out in the charge sheet. - Sapa