Pretoria – Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has appealed for calm ahead of the court appearance of six police officers arrested in connection with the death of Andries Tatane during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg.
Mthethwa urged those who will attend the court proceedings to allow the court process to unfold and avoid provocation.
The police officers – two of whom face charges of murder, while the remaining four face charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm – are expected to appear in court on Monday.
The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) announced the arrest of the police officers from the public order police unit in Bloemfontein at the weekend.
According to media reports, Tatane was allegedly attacked by at least six police officers simultaneously last week. They allegedly beat him with batons and fired rubber bullets into his chest.
Tatane collapsed about 20 minutes after the incident and died before an ambulance arrived.
Mthethwa has welcomed the arrested of six police officers, saying he was confident the criminal justice system would ensure that those found responsible for any wrongdoing are accordingly punished.
He stressed that the arrests did not represent finalisation of the case and appealed to the public to respect the processes that still had to be followed.
“It is not and has never been our stance to pre-judge incidents from afar, but believe that the ICD would follow every letter of the Constitution in carrying out its investigations,” Mthethwa added.
The Police Ministry also responded to accusations that Mthethwa was silent and had adopted a “defensive reactive approach” when the incident in Ficksburg occurred.
“The ministry’s view has always been to advocate for a thorough investigation and not draw premature conclusions. We once again emphasise the point that the six officers remain innocent until proven guilty by the court of law.
“We remain confident that the criminal justice system of this country will again continue this process without fear or favour, and that those who have any wrongdoing once the process has been concluded, justice would have prevailed,” the ministry said. – BuaNews