S.Africa to probe brutal killing of protester by police
South African police were being probed Thursday for an alleged deadly attack on an unarmed protester who died after he was kicked and beaten with batons by officers.
Footage of armed officers striking and kicking Andries Tatane, 33, during a protest against poor government services in the Free State province was broadcast on state-owned television Wednesday night.
"We noted the unfortunate incident where there was a scuffle between a striker and the police," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
"At this point it would be inappropriate to draw conclusions on what triggered the alleged incident and the resultant death, but we have every confidence that the ICD (Independent Complaints Directorate) will investigate the incident without delay."
Tatane was part of a group of about 4,000 protesters who marched to the city's municipal offices on Wednesday over a lack of running water, electricity and housing in their community, The Times newspaper reported.
Tatane was shown holding his hand against his chest after the assault and collapsed around 20 minutes later, dying before an ambulance arrived. He was also shot twice with rubber bullets in his chest, the newspaper said.
"We sent an investigator yesterday and today we have sent a team of investigators," Moses Dlamini, spokesman for the ICD, which probes police wrong-doing, told AFP.
"A post mortem will be held tomorrow."
South Africa's ruling party slammed the attack as "resembling apartheid era police strong arm tactics, showing total disregard for human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution".
According to an eyewitness, quoted by The Times, Tatane had jumped in front of an elderly man who was being sprayed by a water cannon.
Police spokesman Phumelelo Dhlamini said the incident happened while trying to arrest Tatane.
"While he was being arrested there was a gunshot. We don't know who shot him but we are investigating," she said.
South Africa routinely sees violent protests in its shantytowns as residents demand better services. Protests are set to intensify ahead of local municipal elections on May 18.
© 2011 AFP