Tatane’s death opens old wounds for family

2011-04-24 10:00
Lucas Ledwaba
The violent images of Andries Tatane being assaulted and shot during a protest march have opened old wounds for the family of a 17-year-old boy who died in similar circumstances during a service delivery protest seven years ago.

The teenager, Tebogo Mkhonza, died after he was shot by police during a protest march in Intabazwe township, near Harrismith in the eastern Free State in August 2004.

Three policemen, Captain Vissie Visser and inspectors Marius Nel and Hennie de Wet, were arrested and charged with his murder.

They were acquitted in July 2006.

Mkhonza’s guardian, Violet Nqongwane, broke down this week as she told how images of Tatane’s assault and shooting have revived the pain of losing her late sister’s son.

She does not watch the news on TV any more after she saw the gory images of Tatane being assaulted and shot.“I feel sorry for that family in Ficksburg.

 I know what they must be going through.

I just pray that their case doesn’t end up like Tebogo’s case,” she said.Nqongwane said the case against Visser, Nel, and De Wet was postponed so many times she eventually stopped going to court because she had lost hope.

Then, one day in July 2006 she woke up to a front-page photograph in the local newspaper of the three police officers celebrating their acquittal over a bottle of champagne.

She has since suffered a stroke. Her problems were compounded by the fact that “certain comrades” did not fulfil their promises to help the family cover some of the costs of the funeral and the family never got a cent from the trust fund that was opened on their behalf after the tragedy.

“Tebogo died because he wanted progress. He was a good boy who was loved by the community. He was always available to help.

But he has never been given justice.“He was not a dog. Somebody killed him and that person should have been punished. I am suffering because of all this,” said a sobbing Nqongwane.