No One Held Responsible For Tatane’s Death


By Ntokozo Sindane    29-Mar-2013 19:17 UTC+02:00
The state failed to prove that any of the police officers in this picture are guilty of using excessive force to kill Andries Tatane who is seen here topless and bleeding. The helmets worn by the officers make it difficult to conclusively say exactly who caused the fatal injuries. – image - africasacountry.com

The state failed to prove that any of the police officers in this picture are guilty of using excessive force to kill Andries Tatane who is seen here topless and bleeding. The helmets worn by the officers make it difficult to conclusively say exactly who caused the fatal injuries. – image – africasacountry.com

It’s not often that one sees a person die on the evening news but on 13 April 2011, that is what millions of households across the globe were treated to. Andries Tatane was seen in various video clips protesting against poor service delivery in his area. He was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans in one clip actively chanting with other protesters. In the video footage that went viral online, Andries Tatane is surrounded by more than a dozen police officers who beat him repeatedly with standard police issue batons. Even after he falls, the police assault continues. Andries is then shot using rubber bullets and he dies twenty minutes later.

On Thursday 28 March, Business Day Live reported that the police officers accused of killing Tatane were acquitted and therefore, cannot be held responsible for Tatane’s death. The seven accused members of the SAPS all left the Ficksburg Regional Court as free people.

Magistrate Hein van Niekerk came to the conclusion that the state had not sufficiently proved its case against the accused. He said that there hadn’t been enough evidence to show that the accused officers were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The biggest stumbling block to the prosecution’s case was that the attackers were wearing helmets and therefore no one could say with certainty whose faces were obstructed by the helmets.

This ruling comes after the South African Human Rights Commission found that Tatane’s right to protest had been violated and even more regretfully, his right to life was grossly disregarded when excessive force used by members of the SAPS eventually led to his death.

South Africans, as well as the international community, reacted with shock and dissatisfaction at the outcome of the Tatane trial. As things stand, it seems that no one will ever be held responsible for the death of Andries Tatane unless of course, new evidence, more compelling and telling than an actual video showing the man die, comes to light.


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  1. ethnopunk says:

    South Africa’s corrupt justice system in which a judge is both judge and jury is to blame for the outcome. The test for reasonableness in law, and whether or not proof is beyond a reasonable doubt should not be left up to party apparatchiks who are bound to the ruling party.

  2. Mlu says:

    no one could say with certainty whose faces were obstructed by the helmets? wtf! If all of them were there, they know who killed Tatane. The man died. If they cannot identify the person responsible, then they should all be convicted, not acquitted. Does it mean if I go out on a shooting spree with wearing my balaclava I cannot be convicted? Damn

  3. Ben Spreeth says:

    He certainly did not die of natural causes. Millions of people saw how the police killed him. If killed by one man, the murderer is guilty. If killed by a few policemen they are innocent? They are all guilty of murder whether the judge says so or not. Has the judge been influenced, and can that happen?

    • Phillip says:

      Obviously, the judge was influenced, and that does happen. The law reinforcement officers think they are above the law.

  4. Joseph Tuoane says:

    If the law of country is weak we are waiting more criminal activity.All the police who ther are responsible then the truth will come out.

  5. Themba says:

    He should not have turned violent against the police. In turn they should not have beat him that much. But reports show he went with the intent to cause serious problems. Protestors and criminals have more rights than the police does. It serves them right to get shot. How many police officers needs losing their lives because of these idiots? If you want to behave like a animal you’ll be treated the same way. I say let the police do their work. The real problem lies with the corrupt goverment that steal from all the people. But no we keep voting them into power.  Then things get out of control and we blame other people? How about we get rid of all the illigal imagrants first then start fixing the country like we should be doing. Using taxes the right way instead of building bigger houses for the president!! Catch a wake up SA

  6. ken says:

    As a law abiding SA citizen i am disgusted by the collapse of numerous government services and now the judicial system. South Africa has collapsed into a lawless, corrupt banana republic where our very president squanders 100′ s of millions of rands constructing a veritable palace when their are school children that dont even have text books because of lack of funds due to corruption. I never thought i would say this, but its time to leave this beautiful country to the hyenas that are gorging themselves to the point of gluttony on the very people that voted them into power…shame on you Zuma, shame on you ANC.

  7. Mwanga says:

    I agree with Themba. Let the police do their jobs.

  8. Herrie says:

    It would be wrong to attack the magistrate. He gave an impeccably correct judgment. The investigating officers were to blame for not preparing a proper case. Perhaps they deliberately fudged it because of misplaced loyalty to their fellow cops? The national Prosecuting Authority [NPA]  is mainly to blame for not ensuring that a watertight case was prepared by the investigating officers and, worse, going to court with a case which they knew could only succeed in a court presided over by an incompetent magistrate. What they have achieved by rushing to court with a leaking case, was to ensure that those charged can never be prosecuted again should new evidence come to light — on the principle of ‘autrefois acquit’ or double jeopardy. The NPA has a longstanding record of similar blunders — inter alia its notorious decision not to prosecute Jacob Zuma on more than 400  serious charges of corruption (in spite of having a virtually water-tight case).

  9. khanyi says:

    U know the corwards that are suppose to protect us are all hulligans but we cant blame them, they never went to school . My dad was short by a police and the guy still works today so like really that is why i HATE police man .No one has a ryt to kill anyone or shoot anyone God i swear i have no reason to call those cows cos they might shoot me or my mother now!!!!!!!

  10. td says:

    yes this is the time of giving and forgiving …easter… but the judges are illinformed… its not time to let loose the killers. watch out for the ones who killed the mozambican guy…. they mgt not even find proof even if we saw the two pot bellied failing to race against the car….shame….shame.

  11. Your Name... says:

    Tatane provoked the police, attacked them and resisted arrest. Is that how law abiding citizens should behave? In one way or the other, Tatane brought this tragic incident on himself.

  12. Peanut says:

    The useless magistrates of SA, I see a lot of racism in these posts against the ANC, but the whites are even worse when it comes to justice. The people should stand together against the police, they are trained to be murderers!!!!

    • Georg says:

      Why blame the magistrates?  A case stands or fall by the evidence led in court.  If you followed the case as reported in the media you would have read that most of the witnesses who testified alleged under cross examination that they were forced by the Independent Complaints Unit who investigated the case to make false statements to implicate the accused.  A criminal case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  What else could the magistrate do with such evidence before him?   Act like a jungle justice court and convict?  There was nothing wrong with the actions of the magistrate or the NPA.  Tomorrow you or a relative of yours stand before a court and you would expect that reliable and accurate evidence is presented in court.  Please check your fact before you utter nonsense on this thread.

  13. Mataffin says:

    I knew it south africa is poor in terms of their judiciary lets keep the police n cee if can escape just like these bloody hellbound socalled police of South Frica

  14. adam k says:

    we may put every thing to apartheid and blame them but those BOERE knew what they were doingcrime is a business in our country Lawyers  are the one’swho make money only poor people go to prison dit is net BOBBEJAANDANS.

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