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Police brutality: Hundreds join Facebook campaign to protest Andries' death

Close to 1000 people have joined the Facebook's 'Andries Tatane campaign' (614 members) and the 'Andries Tatane, A Beautiful Fighter, Your Death Shall Not be in Vain' group (317 members) to protest the death of this Free State community leader and teacher who was savagely beaten and allegedly shot to death by cops last week.
The social media campaigns have generated a huge debate, reflecting on a scourge that is threatening to blow up a nation that is still recovering from almost eight decades of violence, racism and social injustice.

Emotions are running high on Facebook, with some users even threatening to boycott the May 18 municipal elections, while others - more radical - are calling for the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), which they describe as 'toothless' and an ANC-controlled agency, to be disbanded.

There are also those who are blaming the ANC for 'protecting' the interests of white people, and others openly evoking the memories of the Tunisian-style revolution.

Mukelisiwe Mngomezulu wrote: "What infuriates me is the fact that the people/party responsible for this hero's death will just be re-elected. I supported the 'no vote' campaign but why don't we forget about that and vote for a party that will care about blacks, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania."

Protecting 'white' interests?

Zeer Nehanda Radebe said that Andries died screaming from the top of his bullet-ravaged lungs, urging black people to 'wake up' because 1994 changed nothing. "May his death remind us that the ANC will stop at nothing to protect white interest [sic] in this country."

Otto Jabulani Mkhatshwa urged people to oppose police brutality and start advocating for a more humane and non-violent approach to policing.

While some disgruntled voters blame the ANC-led government for letting their communities down - a situation that is sparking a wave of anger and unhappiness, some however suggest that the rot lies deeply in the top management of the law enforcement agency.

'Rotting from the head'

Jane Duncan, media professor at Rhodes University, said yesterday: "The involvement of top members of the police force, including Cele himself [police boss] in dodgy deals, and even alleged murder in the case of Crime Intelligence boss Richard Ndluli, have suggested that the fish is rotting from the head.

"There has also been a deskilling of 'public order' police following an ill-advised restructuring of the police in 2006. These factors combined have created an environment where some cops feel that they can beat and even murder unarmed civilians at will," she said.

"Some activists in areas like Ermelo have also alleged that they have been tortured while in police custody. If these incidents are allowed to continue, then what stops us from sliding into a police state?"

About Issa Sikiti da Silva

Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to as a senior news writer.