Tatane family considering civil lawsuit

The family now plan to meet to discuss the way forward after the criminal case was dismissed.

Andries Tatane's widow, Rose (L), as pictured in the Fiksburg Regional Court in the Free State on 18 March 2013. Picture: Andrea van Wyk/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Protester Andries Tatane's family is deciding whether they will file a civil lawsuit against police after seven officers accused of his murder were acquitted in the Ficksburg Regional Court on Thursday.

Tatane died after being beaten by police officers and shot with rubber bullets during a service delivery protest in April 2011.

The court on Thursday found there was insufficient evidence to prove the officers' guilt.

Tatane's uncle David Ntoli said the state bungled the case and although it is obvious the magistrate could not convict the accused, the family still wants answers.

"The family is not happy. It will sit down to decide on the next step because justice has never been fair to us."

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)'s Phaladi Shuping said it is not yet clear whether an appeal will be lodged.

"We have prosecutors studying the judgment. We'll see if there's any decision that they can take from whatever that was presented by the magistrate in court."

Shuping believes the state had a strong case, but police witnesses blindsided prosecutors.

Meanwhile, South Africans took to social networks to voice their opinions following the judgment.

Nkopane Makatse tweeted: "Service delivery protests irritate & embarrass our politicians. To them #Tatane was the enemy...case was only gonna go one way."

Zackie Achmat wrote: "Andries #Tatane was twice murdered by @SAPoliceService through the failure of investigation."

James Styan ‏tweeted: "It's unfathomable how the NPA could screw up the #tatane case as badly as it did. And inexcusable. Those cops killed a man and are scot-free."