AFRICANGLOBE – The nine South African police officers charged with dragging a taxi driver from Mozambique behind a police van to his death—a horrific incident that was caught on video by a bystander— were denied bail as they all pleaded not guilty in a magistrate’s court amid tight security.
The murder of taxi driver Mido Macia, 27, on February 26 has unsettled South Africa because of its brutality, which was broadcast on television for all to see. As the police officers appeared in the court, a small crowd of protesters gathered outside, making the case that the accused should be denied bail.
One placard read: “What have we done to die like dogs?”
South African’s President Jacob Zuma was outraged by the video, saying it was “horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner.”
Mido Macia’s father, who traveled to South Africa from Mozambique following the murder, was seated at the back of the gallery in the corner, where an interpreter is translating for him.
Last Friday, the court heard from pathologist Reggie Perumal that Mido Macia had suffered extensive injuries, culminating in hypoxia—a lack of oxygen supply to the body—causing his death. He had extensive abrasions on his face, limbs and body, deep cuts on his forearms and wrists and “almost full thickness lacerations of the head,” she said.
He also had bruised ribs, back, left and right testes, lips and bite marks on his tongue as well as bleeding and water on the brain, according to an AFP news agency report.
“There were no organs that were not damaged, [not] his heart, lungs or spleen. . . Severe bruising to his arms shows he was desperately trying to fight for his life,” prosecutor December Mthimunye said in South Africa’s Times newspaper reports. “His testes were severely swollen, showing huge trauma, a clear sign of ‘torture’ beating, which no one can explain. When he [Mr Mido Macia] arrived at the [police] station, his pants were missing. He was crying, begging for help. They took him to the cell. Blood splatters on the walls and floor attest to the ferociousness [of the beatings].”
The nine police officers range in age from 25 to 57.
The video of the incident near Johannesburg shows Mido Macia struggling with police after they confronted him for parking his vehicle illegally. The video shows them overcoming Mido Macia and tying him to the back of a van by his arms before driving off.
Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said: “The behavior displayed in the video. . . is to be abhorred”
Meanwhile, Graca Michel, the Mozambican wife of former South African President Nelson Mandel, joined hundreds of mourners at a Daveyton sports stadium on Wednesday.
“As a society we are bleeding. We are grieving. We are in pain. We just don’t know how to deal with the pain,” Michel told reporters.
By; Nick Chiles