Sunday, April 17, 2011


Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert Kennedy, Cape Town, 1966

This is Andries Tatane, a 33-year-old maths teacher, a resident of Meqheleng, a poverty-stricken township just outside of Ficksburg in South Africa. 
Andries is lying dead in a friend's arms, having just collapsed after a brutal beating by eight riot policemen that ended in one of them shooting him.

You can watch his beating and death on YouTube if you want to.

Why was he killed? 
He had intervened in the over-zealous policing of a group of protestors. He stepped in front of an old man being sprayed with a water-cannon, took off his own shirt and told the police to spray him instead of the old man. In response, the police beat the life out of him.

This happened on April 13 2011.
Last week.
Not during apartheid.

Why were the people protesting?
After 17 years, the people of Meqheleng are still waiting for the State to provide them with basic amenities. 'Service delivery'. That's the buzz-word in these post-Apartheid Rainbow-Nation days. 

So, Andries Tatane is brutally beaten and killed by the government's police force. 
Police Commissioner Bheki Cele's new policing policy is 'shoot to kill'. Zero tolerance of crime. And zero tolerance of people too, obviously.

Andries Tatane, a brave husband, father and South African, who lost his life at the hands of the State by standing up for another.

Look familiar?

Please tell me you know this famous photograph and what it represents.

Please read the Deputy Chief Executive of the South African Institute Of Race Relations Frans Cronje's open letter to the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa

So far, the police have failed to suspend the policemen involved, and neither Bheki Cele nor Nathi Mthethwa have offered to resign. 

What are we to make of all this, people? 
One thing is for sure, you can't ignore it. 
But somehow, most of us will. 'It's just the government', we say. 'It's just politics'. 
'It's nothing to do with us'.

Tell that to Andries Tatane's family.

A luta continua.

Devemos resistir.

Viva Andries Tatane Viva!


  1. As a South African who was 15 years old right in the middle of the switchover in the nineties, I had to do a bit of research to find out what my poor country had been through to get there. Steve Biko was one of the first to teach me a lesson. You're right, it's Hector Pieterson all over again, but someone is likely going to downscale it, or just page back and go read dilbert or something.

    Wake up SA. Pay attention, how are we going to change our country while we're still in bed?

    A luta continua.

  2. I cried when I read the newspaper article the day after this happened and I cried last night when I wathed the news report that showed Andries Tatane dying. I cannot believe the lack of hummanity that is tolerated in this country. And I hope that people will choose to do more than just moan about our government. Through out Africa we are seeing people standing up to corruption and oppression. I don't agree with violence and will never support it but I do agree with people starting to cry out until someone here's them.

    Thank you John for speaking out, I think you maybe have a voice that people with hear until the rest of us are shouting loud enough that we can't be ignored.

  3. Mr. Frans Cronjé's (SA Institute of Race Relations) letter to minister Nathi Mthethwa: "Your Police Service has suspended 2 members of the Metro Police (Jannie Odendaal and Abel Twala : because they "offended" WInnie Mandela. Why doesn't your Police Service have the will to suspend the officials that have murdered Andries Tatane?"

  4. Seems like we are decending into a Police State. I still remember the horror on my dad's face when we watched PW Botha declare a State of Emergency. Don't let it happen again. Vote!

  5. I like this... however...Just a question - What do we do? Not being funny at all, i'm asking a serious question. Is a blog, a tweet or a song enough? Yes it makes people aware, but so does the news. This kind of 'chanting' over social networks - does it do anything substantial? Are we really making a difference by just voicing our opinion?

  6. Great point Lloyd. Is blogging/tweeting/updating/'chanting' enough? No, of course not, but at the same time, consider this: here we are discussing the issues. Here we are thinking about the world around us, about people and politics, debating with each other about what's right and what's wrong, and trying to figure out what, if anything, we should do. That's a great great start, don't you think? Any kind of political change starts with people, you and me, talking, considering, weighing in and weighing up options...

  7. And I'm supposed to care for a dead white-hating Marxist because....