PRETORIA, South Africa — Six white police officers accused of setting dogs on black prisoners and beating them are to remain in custody, a judge ordered Thursday.
Five of the six will remain in detention until Nov. 17, when they will be eligible to apply for bail. One, Sgt. Jacobus Smith, will be allowed to enter a hospital because he is infected with a rare virus, the South African Press Assn. reported.
The six officers have been charged with attempted murder for a videotaped attack in which they allegedly set as many as four police dogs on three black illegal immigrants, ostensibly as part of an exercise to train young dogs to be aggressive.
The six have been suspended without pay.
The tape, recorded in 1998 and broadcast Tuesday on the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corp., or SABC, showed the officers punching the victims when they tried to defend themselves. The bleeding victims, their clothes in tatters, were then forced to stand in a line as some of the officers punched them. The officers were heard shouting racial slurs.
The six were arrested Tuesday. On Wednesday, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna issued a statement saying he would speak to the nation's chief prosecutor to ensure that bail is "vigorously opposed."
The case has sparked outrage across the nation, with politicians and others calling for harsh punishment of the six and reinforced efforts to battle racism.
Tony Leon, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said the scenes on the videotape belonged to the "heyday of apartheid and have no place in the present South Africa." Police often used dogs to attack black people during South Africa's racist apartheid regime, which ended in 1994.
Meanwhile, a man who claimed he was one of the three immigrants mauled in the attack said Thursday that his attackers had offered him freedom if he paid $39.
"All they wanted from us was 300 rand [$39], but we didn't have it," Mozambican laborer Gilbert Ntimane told an SABC team in an interview made available to Reuters.
Police and the SABC traced possible victims Thursday. Police did not confirm that the three men identified by the SABC were all victims of the attack.
Director Sharon Schutte, who is heading the police investigation, told Reuters that police had traced and interviewed two men Thursday and that one appeared to be a victim of the attack.