Despite a nationwide outcry after the death of Andries Tatane, whose beating by police was broadcast on television news, the officers involved have still not been identified and are still on active duty.
While police insist they have stopped using force against residents in Meqheleng, a township in Ficksburg, an eight-month pregnant woman today said she was shot in the neck by a rubber bullet yesterday.
Elizabeth Mtshali told the Cape Argus today she was carrying a plastic drum to fetch water last night when she was shot by the police.
She was rushed to the provincial hospital where she spent the night worrying about her unborn child.
Mtshali was discharged from hospital today, her neck badly bruised.
“I don’t know why they shot me. There were other people and they just started shooting,” she said describing her ordeal last night in Meqheleng.
Her sister and other residents said they witnessed the shooting.
The ongoing protests in Meqheleng were triggered by residents’ unhappiness over their lack of access to water.
Police confirmed today that the police officers captured on footage beating Tatane, 33, were still on active duty, but the unit was not in Meqheleng.
The footage shows police beating Tatane with batons during a service delivery protest.
Witnesses said they heard one of the policemen shout “Shoot”, however, they did not see anyone fire a weapon nor did they hear a shot.
They then saw Tatane collapse, with a wound in his chest. He died at the scene.
The clip was showed on television news on Wednesday night and has been met with widespread outrage.
Police spokesman Sam Makhele said today the “internal investigation” was still under way to identify the individual policemen filmed beating Tatane.
He told the Cape Argus yesterday that they would be suspended once identified, and would then face an investigation relating to a charge of murder.
However, that investigation would be conducted by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).
ICD head Francois Beekman said investigators had already started the case.
“The post-mortem is this morning in Bloemfontein, and we will be there. The cause of death is crucial in compiling a case for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to consider.
“We will also be interrogating members (of the police) who were on the scene, and this will start this morning too,” Beekman said.
ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said firearms used by the police during the protest would be sent for ballistic testing.
Meanwhile, Sapa reported that 45 people arrested for public violence on Wednesday appeared in the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday, where about 200 people had converged.
They sang and toyi-toyied, demanding the release of the group.
Leading the march, Lereko Manako, of the Concerned Citizens of Meqheleng group, said they would not leave until their members were freed. By 4pm, the 45 were released on a warning and told to reappear on May 24.
Manako claimed scores of residents were injured in Wednesday's protest when police shot at them.
“People were trampled and hurt in the commotion.”
Manako said he was mandated to speak on behalf of the Tatane family. “The family is really, really sad and distraught and it’s a terrible situation. They are angry and we are giving them time to now sort out funeral arrangements.”
Tatane’s wife Rose Makananelo Motlhaping yesterday visited the scene of his death, where she broke down.
Human Rights Commission chairman advocate Lawrence Mushwana said he was concerned about what appeared to be a trend of police violating people’s constitutional rights. - Cape Argus