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6 S. African Police Get Bail

November 22, 2000

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) _ Six police officers arrested for setting dogs on three black men in a videotaped attack that horrified the country were granted bail Wednesday.

Magistrate Alan Cohan set bail at $260 apiece. He said prosecutors had not proven the officers’ lives would be in danger if they received bail or that there would be public violence if they were released. He ordered the accused not to interfere with any of the witnesses in the case.

Outside the court, several hundred people demonstrated against the officers. Some waved posters reading ``One settler, one bullet,″ an anti-white slogan from the days of apartheid.

In the video of the attack, broadcast by state television Nov. 7, the police were seen assaulting their victims with dogs, punching the men and yelling racial slurs. The officers were arrested the day of the broadcast and politicians and others have demanded they be harshly punished.

The six have been charged provisionally with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, extortion and abduction, but those charges might change as the investigation continues, police said.

Senior Superintendent Etienne Viljoen testified Friday that the officers’ lives would be in danger if they were released on bail.

The six also might hurt Andries Jacobs, who gave the videotape to state television, Viljoen said. Jacobs is a friend of one of the accused.

The video, apparently made by one of the officers during the attack in 1998, showed the officers inciting dogs to attack three black, illegal immigrants. News reports said the officers later showed the tape for entertainment.

Those charged were Sgt. Jacobus Smith, 31, Inspector Chris Koch, 32, Sgt. Nicolaas Loubser, 27, Sgt. Deno Guiotto, 27, Sgt. Robert Henzen, 32, and Inspector Eugene Truter, 28.

Since the broadcast, South Africans have flooded newspapers with letters expressing outrage.

Several people also have complained about police attacking them with dogs.

Authorities have announced restrictions on the use of police dogs, said all dog handlers would be psychologically evaluated and that the dogs would be tested to see if they had been trained to attack black people.

Under South Africa’s racist, apartheid regime that ended in 1994, police often used dogs to attack black people.

The broadcast came four months after two white police officers received suspended jail sentences for beating two black hijacking suspects and setting a dog on them. The British Broadcast Corp. aired footage of that attack last year.

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