On Sunday 12 April, Congress of the People will gather at the spot where Andries Tatane was brutally killed by the police of our democratic government. He became the first person, under this government, to die while taking part in a peaceful service delivery protest.
COPE recalls how Tatane and the residents of Mqheleng township, in Ficksburg, had staged a peaceful protest march to the municipal offices against corruption and poor service deliver…y. In particular, the people were demanding clean drinking water. Police, without any justification, opened fire on the marchers. Teargas and rubber bullets we fired. Tatane, tragically, was hit by a live bullet and fell in the midst of the marchers. Even as he was dying, like Walter Scott in the US, the police continued their brutal assault. This was so unforgivable.
Seven police officers were charged with assault and murder. They were later acquitted by the regional court in Ficksburg because, in the view of the magistrate, the state had been unable to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt.
We are still shocked that nobody was held responsible for Tatane’s death even though the whole world bore witness to his death on TV. The only unresolved question that remains is – who pulled the trigger.
Cope reiterates that our criminal justice system failed Andries Tatane and it failed the entire country. For us it was reminiscent of the apartheid government where police could kill and go unscathed.
Cope will never forget this gallant hero of the people. We will never let his death be in vain. We will never get tired of fighting against corruption and we will forever strive for a better life for all the people of the country.
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By Congress of the People (COPE)