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Sunday Times STLive By KHANYI NDABENI, WERNER SWART and ISAAC MAHLANGU, 2013-03-03

Heartache of police killing hits home

Mido Macie's parents broke down in tears when they heard for the first time how their son was dragged by a police van and later viciously assaulted in a police holding cell.

As cellphone video footage of his ordeal at the hands of South African policemen was shown across the world this week, all the Macie family knew was that he was dead.

The Sunday Times was present when Mido's cousin, Antonio Mtimkulu, who had travelled to their village near Maputo, broke the news to Silvestre and Joaneta Macie.

The 27-year-old taxi driver died in the holding cell in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, on Tuesday night.

Eight police officers are scheduled to appear in the Daveyton Magistrate's Court tomorrow to face a charge of murder. A second postmortem is scheduled to be performed to establish the extent of Macie's injuries.

Silvestre Macie, 57, said : "I want to know what kind of awful crime my son committed that led to him being subjected to such brutality. He was treated like a dog by people who were supposed to protect him."

Sitting under a mango tree outside their house with village elders, the family listened with tears in their eyes as Mtimkulu gave them a detailed account of what happened .

As Mtimkulu explained the video and showed them stills on his cellphone, some villagers and family members put their heads in their hands and sobbed.

The family first heard of their son's death from a villager who received a call from another Mozambican living in South Africa.

Mtimkulu, 25, came armed with South African newspapers to show them coverage of the incident.

Village elder Arnaldo Nyanana said they wanted justice and believed Macie was a victim of xenophobia.

"We treat South Africans well here and expect our children to be treated the same in South Africa. To us it seems Mido was treated badly because your police knew he was a foreigner," he said.

Macie last visited his family in January and told his parents of his plans to marry Bivda Mazive, the mother of his three-year-old son, Sergio Jossefa.

"I can't even begin to describe the pain I'm in right now. My son would never hurt anyone. Why did they have to kill him? This family will never be the same again," said Joaneta.

The incident has been widely condemned, including by President Jacob Zuma and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Investigators from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate removed the personal files of the officers involved from the Daveyton police station. They will now be scrutinised for previous complaints.

It is understood that one of the officers arrested was nicknamed "Maboots". A local said:"Maboots is just known for kicking butt ... everyone in Daveyton knew him as Maboots, the policeman who will kick you quick."

Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said: "Now that we've launched an internal investigation, we will know if there has been complaints laid against any of them, but for now we are not aware of any."

The Benoni Taxi Association, of which Macie was a member, said it was aware of "Maboots". "We've heard stories about him, his manners and that he is a very rude policeman," said the association's spokesman, Davhedzi Rambau .

Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said he could not confirm whether "Maboots" was one of the those arrested, but added: "We have heard the allegations but we have not received any complaint officially."

Phiyega has ordered the removal of Daveyton police station commander Colonel Thomas Maupa. Although Maupa has not been charged, he is being investigated for allegedly failing to take immediate action after Macie's death was brought to his attention.

A person close to the investigation said: "The arrested officers include those on duty at the cells on the night. They were not supposed to even accept him [Macie] or book him into the cells because he was injured. He should have been taken to a hospital."