Ficksburg protesters set buildings alight


Ficksburg – Two municipal buildings in Ficksburg, in the eastern Free State, were set alight by rioters on Thursday over the killing of a man allegedly at the hands of the police.

“The home affairs building and the public works building [were] set alight at around 12:45,” said police spokesperson Captain Phumelelo Dlamini.

“We are not sure if anyone has been injured or if the buildings were evacuated in time,” he said.

The buildings are on different streets.

Dlamini said firefighters were on the scene and were trying to extinguish the flames.

“I’m also not sure if our members arrested anyone yet for arson,” he said.

200 toyi-toying

Earlier, Dlamini described said the area as “calm” and said residents were in their homes.

At least 45 people were arrested for public violence on Wednesday.

No arrests had been made yet in connection with the murder of 33-year-old Andries Tatane, who was the breadwinner of his family and had one child.

But 45 people were arrested for public violence on Wednesday and around 200 people converged at the Ficksburg Magistrates Court on Thursday, singing and toyi-toying, demanding their release.

Leading the march, Lereko Manako, of the Concern Citizens of Meqheleng forum, told Sapa they would not leave until their members were freed.

He said scores of residents were injured when police opened fire on them.

“People were trampled and hurt in the commotion and we don’t even know if it was live ammunition or rubber bullets.”

He was aware of the fire a few roads away and dismissed SABC reports that learners had started it.

“We only have adults protesting, not children.”

Tatane family ‘sad and distraught’

Manako was also mandated to speak on behalf of the Tatane family.

“The family are really, really sad and distraught and it’s a terrible situation.

“They are angry and we are giving them time to now sought out funeral arrangements.”

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) has sent a team of investigators to the area.

“Some were sent yesterday [Wednesday] and we sent more today [Thursday],” said ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini.

“They will investigate and take statements from witnesses and police… then an identity parade will be carried out,” he said

Rubber bullets

Firearms would be sent for ballistics testing.

A report of the findings would be compiled and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a decision on whether to prosecute, he said.

It was not clear if the police officers accused of the crime had been suspended.

Police allegedly fired rubber bullets into Tatane’s chest and then beat him with batons during a protest.

He was allegedly attacked by at least six policemen “simultaneously”, according to media reports.

He was seen holding his hand against his chest after the assault and collapsed about 20 minutes later. He died before the ambulance arrived.

The police confirmed that a man has been killed during the protest.

The residents of Meqheleng township were marching to the Ficksburg municipal offices to hand over a memorandum relating to service delivery issues when the incident took place.

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