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Monday, 20 August, 2001, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
SA police brutality trial postponed
Video showing suspect being attacked by police dogs
The video caused a widespread public outcry
By Barnaby Phillips in Pretoria

Six white South African policemen who were caught on film setting their dogs on three black men have appeared in court in Pretoria.

The discovery of the film late last year caused an uproar in South Africa, but on Monday defence and prosecution lawyers agreed that the trial should be postponed until November.

The six white policemen walked out of the court pursued by a gang of photographers.

They are out on bail but have been suspended from the police force without pay.

They made just the briefest appearance in the courtroom, standing together nervously in ill-fitting suits as they were addressed by the judge.

Earlier, outside the courtroom, they joked together and smoked cigarettes.

Shown laughing

It is difficult to believe that these are the men who provoked a national uproar and deep soul searching about racism in South Africa.

The video film shows them laughing as three alleged illegal immigrants are savaged by police dogs.

The dogs are shown biting the legs, arms and faces of the black men.

They plead for mercy, but even as the dogs continue to attack them, the policemen also join in, kicking and punching.

The policemen say they were taking the dogs on a training exercise.

Public outcry

The broadcasting of the video following its discovery late last year provoked an intense public outcry.

At the bail hearings last November several hundred angry black people protested.

Some carried banners with the anti-white slogan 'One Settler, One Bullet'.

Now set for November, the trial is bound to provoke more anguished debate about the divisions which persist not just in the South African police force but in society as a whole.

The BBC's Jane Standley
Some of these pictures may be disturbing
The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"They are out on bail but have been suspended from the police force without pay"
See also:

28 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa's new racism
22 Nov 00 | Africa
SA police dogs 'should be killed'
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Apartheid 'still alive' in SA
30 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa: Racism runs deep
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