South Africa’s police chief Riah Phiyega suspended eight officers as it started an investigation into the death of a taxi driver who was dragged behind a police van.
Policemen overpowered the man, tied him to the back of a vehicle by his wrists and dragged him through a crowd of people, footage broadcast on eNews Channel Africa showed. The rights of Mido Macia, a 27-year-old Mozambican, who later died “were clearly violated,” Phiyega told reporters in Pretoria today. The station commander at Daveyton, on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg, where the incident happened, was also removed, she said.
“We would like to assure the country, the world, that what was in the video is not how the South African Police Service in a democratic South Africa goes about its work,” Phiyega said. “We fully support the principle of police being policed.”
The Feb. 26 incident follows the death of 34 people at Lonmin Plc (LMI)’s Marikana platinum mine on Aug. 14. Police officers opened fire on a group of striking workers, most of whom were armed with machetes or wooden sticks, at the mine near Rustenburg following a week of protests in which 10 people, including two policemen, were killed. Eight policemen were charged after a protester, Andries Tatane, was shot and beaten to death by police during a demonstration in Ficksburg in the central Free State province in April 2011. The incident was captured by TV cameras.
The TV footage from Daveyton shows two men in police uniforms walking behind the car, one of them at times carrying Macia’s feet, before dropping him as the van speeds out of view. He later died from head injuries, Amnesty International said in a report yesterday. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, which has started a probe, said police tried to arrest Macia after he refused to move his taxi that was blocking traffic.
“This appalling incident involving excessive force is the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa,” Noel Kututwa, Amnesty’s southern Africa director, said yesterday.
President Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress have also condemned the act.
To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at email@example.com