The Mercury

Tatane murder witness arrested

- Kristen van Schie

HOURS before the alleged killers of Andries Tatane were to appear in court, a witness to the activist’s murder was arrested on a charge more than five years old.

Molefi Monyane saw Tatane shot and beaten by police officers during a protest in Ficksburg on April 13.

His grief-stricken face was splashed across the front pages of newspapers nationwide as he held Tatane during his dying moments.

Yesterday, the eight police officers accused of the attack appeared briefly in the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court, where the matter was postponed to next month.

Just the night before, however, Monyane was cornered by police outside a petrol station in Ficksburg and arrested by the Hawks for fraud.

Community leader Tseliso Mpekoa, who also took part in the April 13 march, was also arrested for obstructio­n of justice when he allegedly tried to intervene.

According to Ficksburg police spokesman Captain Phumelelo Dhlamini, the men were driving in town when their vehicle was stopped.

“Monyane was arrested for fraud allegedly committed in Bloemfonte­in,” said Dhlamini, though he could not elaborate as he said the arresting officers were from the Free State capital and not Ficksburg.

Clueless

Both Monyane’s lawyer and Ficksburg police had no idea yesterday as to where he was being held and on what charges.

Provincial police spokesman Constable Thabo Litabe confirmed that he was being held at Parkwood police station in Bloemfonte­in.

He was expected to appear in the Bloemfonte­in Magistrate’s Court this morning.

Litabe said the arrest was in connection with a 2006 fraud charge and confirmed the Hawks had played a part.

Mpekoa, however, is crying foul. He is questionin­g why Bloemfonte­in police chose to arrest Monyane in Ficksburg five years after the charges were allegedly laid.

“He’s based in Ficksburg, but also in Bloemfonte­in. His wife works there. His kids go to school there. He started a debt-counsellin­g company last year and was on the radio every morning promoting it. Whatever they say about him, he goes freely everywhere.”

According to Mpekoa’s account, both he and Monyane were at a Meqheleng Concerned Citizens meeting until 7pm on Wednesday.

After the meeting, the men went to a petrol station down the road where they were arrested.

Mpekoa was driven to the Ficksburg police station, where his attorney tried to reason with the police. It did not work. He was kept in the cells overnight.

Yesterday morning, he was released without having to pay bail, but told to return to court on July 4.

“We think it’s their way of intimidati­ng us,” he said.

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