Brutal cops shame SA

01 March 2013 - 02:36 By GRAEME HOSKEN

Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia lay for hours bleeding to death, alone in a cell at a police station in Daveyton, on the East Rand, without medical attention.

For nearly four hours, the 27-year-old - the sole breadwinner for his one-year-old son, Sergio, and 23-year-old wife, Jacquelina - lay dying in a crumpled heap, in his own blood and faeces.

His alleged crime: refusing to obey police officers who ordered him to stop blocking traffic with his vehicle in Daveyton township's main street.

His punishment: being dragged behind a police van for about 500m to the police station, where he was allegedly repeatedly beaten in a sustained attack that prisoners in neighbouring cells say went on for almost two hours.

The police's weapons: allegedly fists, boots, truncheons and torches.

Cellphone footage of the horrific incident went viral yesterday, sparking worldwide condemnation.

President Jacob Zuma, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and the Mozambican government have all condemned Macia's death as "unacceptable".

Outraged Daveyton people yesterday tried to storm the police station, attempting to pull one of the nine alleged culprits from the unmarked vehicle his colleagues used to race him to safety.

They threw stones at the vehicle before turning on officers barricading the police station.

Repeated threats of force by officers protecting the station failed to calm their anger. The residents promised to kill those responsible for Macia's horrific and agonised death.

Describing his death as "shocking", Amnesty International Southern Africa director Noel Kututwa said: "This appalling incident involving excessive force is the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa."

Zuma said : "Members of the South African Police Service are required to operate within the confines of the law in executing their duties.

"The visuals of the incident are horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner."

Macia's brutal killing comes as the nation is still reeling from the death of 34 miners after police opened fire on them in Marikana, in August, and from the killing of Free State rights activist Andries Tatane, in April 2011.

Though the officers alleged to have been involved in the arrest of Macia have been identified, no arrests had been made by last night.

Some of the officers reported for duty yesterday and worked throughout the day.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate would only confirm that Macia, who has lived in South Africa for 17 years, died from severe head and internal injuries.

A preliminary postmortem, according to police sources, found that Macia bled to death. Several organs had been ruptured in the assault.

"It was so bad his organs burst ... some were in pieces ... there was basically nothing left of his insides.

"His head injuries were as bad ... his skull was crushed ... his brain badly damaged. It is clear that those who did this wanted to kill him," said a police source.

Macia's brother, Carlos Mthimkulu, battling to control his emotions, said he did not know what the family was going to do.

"I do not earn enough money to support my family ... how are Mido's little boy and wife going to survive?

"He was their only provider ... the police have killed them ... they have robbed them," he said.

He said that, despite requests for information about his brother's death, the police had ignored the family.

"They are not interested ... we just want to know why they killed him ... why they killed him like a dog."

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini confirmed that Macia had died from severe head and other internal injuries.

He said that, given the multitude of allegations, including those surrounding the assault, a second postmortem was to be held to confirm the findings of the first.

Dlamini said two policemen were initially identified as taking part in the alleged assault but further investigations suggested there might be others involved.

"The investigation is at an early stage. We [will] recommend that these policemen be suspended."

Dlamini said the police had received information about another death at Daveyton police station.

"If it has not been reported we will immediately open an investigation," he said.

Phiyega's spokesman, Brigadier Phuti Setati, said "the matter is viewed by the national commissioner in a very serious light and it is strongly condemned".

He said Phiyega had ordered acting provincial commissioner Phumzo Gela to start an internal investigation into the death and report as a "matter of urgency".

"No amount of explanation can justify this type of conduct.

"We have to earn the respect of the communities we serve ... this can only be done by being professional at all times," he said.

Mozambican embassy police adviser Lacarias Cossa said the embassy was trying to understand what had happened.