On February 26, Mido Macia was accused of improperly parking his taxi, tied to the back of a police van and dragged him through the streets of Benoni, a mining town in South Africa. Police found him dead in his jail cell the next day. Macia was 27 years old. The police ignored pleas from the crowd and covered up the dragging in their official reports. They also failed to notice that at least one person used a cell phone to film the dragging. Nine South African police officers are now charged with murder, according to a March 8 BBC News article.
Under tight security, the nine officers appeared at the magistrate's court in Benoni, which is near Johannesburg. According to a March 8 Reuters article, all nine pleaded "not guilty" to the murder and will stay in jail until Monday. The driver, Lungisa Edwaba, told the court he was unaware Macia was cuffed to the back of the vehicle. He said he drove off because a member of the crowd threw something at him.
The court postponed the nine police officer’s bond hearing until state witnesses can confirm the suspects' identities. A small crowd appeared to protest any bond for the officers.
The accused even stopped, went to the rear of the van and forced Macia's legs to the ground, preventing his desperate attempts to run along with the van. Macia was refused medical treatment and was taken to jail where other jail inmates say he was severely beaten. He died from an extensive list of lacerations, bites, abrasions, blows to his body, internal injuries and internal bleeding. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death as hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen supply to the body.
One witness to the dragging was Sonnyboy Ndlovu, who illustrated how the Macia dragging incident is only one of many episodes of police misconduct in South Africa. He said, "The police are used to terrorising people here in the township, especially the Ethiopians and Mozambicans."
Former South African President Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, is a Mozambican. She attended an emotional memorial ceremony at Daveyton sports stadium on Wednesday. She said, "As a society we are bleeding. We are grieving. We are in pain. We just don't know how to deal with the pain."
There is a police watchdog agency in South Africa, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. This agency reported 1,000 deaths in police custody or after police action last year. While Police commissioner Riah Phiyega blames "a few bad apples" in a massive police force, the past year has exposed a string of terrible problems that raise the specter of Apartheid era corruption and brutality.
Last August, police summarily killed 34 striking workers at platinum mine. Police pulled the lead detective from the Oscar Pistorius case because he was already under attempted murder charges for firing on a minibus taxi carrying seven passengers.