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The BBC's Alan Little
"Their release could trigger public violence"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 17:56 GMT
SA police bailed on brutality charges
An artist's impression of the six accused in court
An artist's impression of the six accused in court
A court in South Africa has granted bail to six white policemen who were captured on video laughing and cheering, while setting their dogs on three black men.

One settler, one bullet

Protestor placard
The six officers are charged with abduction and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The magistrate said he could not find that the interests of justice would be served by denying bail which he set at around $300 for each of the six accused.

Outside the court several hundred protestors gathered to demand that bail be withheld - some carried banners bearing the anti-white slogan 'one settler, one bullet'.

Protestors outside court
More than 150 people protested outside the court
The state prosecutor had argued the men be detained for their own protection because freeing them could provoke riots in which their lives could be endangered.

The BBC correspondent in Johannesburg, Alan Little, says the case has provoked an intense public outcry, with many insisting that the South African police force remains riddled with racism six years after the country's transition to a non-racial democracy.

Video shocker

The six men were arrested after a video showing them setting their German shepherd dogs on three black men was screened by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

suspect being assaulted while on ground
The amateur video was shot in 1998 but only now shown on TV
The video was shot by one of the six white officers themselves.

It shows three black men being savaged by their dogs.

The three suffered bite and tear wounds on their legs, arms and upper bodies.

The video shows them, clearly terrified, pleading with the six police officers.

video still of man being being bitten by police dog
The scenes of brutaliity rocked South Africa
The six respond by laughing and cheering. Some join in the assault, kicking and beating the three men, while the dog assault continued.

A Swiss expert who trains police dogs for an international clientele says most of South Africa's police dogs are dangerous and should be put to death.

(Click for more about the police dogs)

The six accused men left the court in three armoured personnel carriers.

They have spent two weeks in police custody.

Their trial is due to be held in January.

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See also:

22 Nov 00 | Africa
SA police dogs 'should be killed'
08 Nov 00 | Africa
Brutality charges for SA police
30 Aug 00 | Africa
Whites reject Mbeki criticism
19 May 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The brutal imprint of apartheid
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