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SHOCKED: Tankiso Ngidi, a film and media student at UCT, reacts with shock to footage of Andries Tatane being beaten to the ground by police before being shot in the chest. The footage was screened at a gathering organised by the SRC.

The incident in which Ficksburg resident Andries Tatane was killed by police during a service protest is dangerous for South Africa.

These were the words of UCT deputy vice-chancellor Professor Crain Soudien. He was speaking at an SRC-organised meeting to protest against police brutality following the murder of Tatane, an engineering student at UCT in 1998.

“We were deeply shocked and saddened by what all of us saw on television. At an emotional level we are saddened because Andries Tatane was one of our own. But whether he was a student here or not should not determine whether and how we express ourselves on this matter,” Soudien said.

“The police as a public service, as a public institution, is fundamentally about preserving these rights. What it did was not only implicate itself in the taking of a life but in the taking of an idea, the idea of a democracy, the idea of trust.”

About 100 students had gathered at the Molly Blackburn Hall where footage of the incident was shown. CCTV footage of a raid at a Stellenbosch nightclub where students had been assaulted by police three years was also screened.

SRC president Amanda Ngwenya said that the incident in Ficksburg was not isolated as police claimed.

“By no means was (Andries Tatane) the first victim of police brutality,” Ngwenya said.

She made reference to the Stellenbosch raid and said cases of police brutality occurred countrywide without consequence.

Chumani Maxwele who last year was arrested for making a hand gesture at President Jacob Zuma’s convoy while jogging along De Waal Drive in Rondebosch, spoke out about the incident.

He was taken first to the Rondebosch police station, then to the one in Mowbray. He was kept in the holding cells for 24 hours and was forced to write an apology to Zuma.

“For a long time I had not spoken in public about what had happened to me. But in the last two weeks I’ve been propelled to stand up in the spirit of Andries Tatane and speak out about police brutality in our country. I think it’s important for us to stand up and say enough is enough,” Maxwele said.

Maxwele was charged with crimen injuria, but the case was thrown out of court. He said that he had taken his case to the Human Rights Commission but chairman Lawrence Mushwana said they could not investigate because there was a case pending.

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