Judge describes Mido Macia's killing as 'barbaric'

11 November 2015 - 22:03 By News24 Correspondent
Some of the eight police officers convicted in the murder trial of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia in the dock.
Some of the eight police officers convicted in the murder trial of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia in the dock.

A High Court judge in Pretoria has described the actions of the eight former Daveyton policeman, who dragged Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia behind a police van before severely assaulting him, as barbaric.

Judge Bert Bam sentenced Meshack Malele, 46, Thamsamqa Mgema, 35, Percy Jonathan Mnisi, 26, Bongamusa Mdluli, 25, Sipho Sydwell Ngobeni, 30, Lungisa Gwababa, 31, Bongani Kolisi, 27, and Linda Sololo, 56, to 15 years imprisonment each for Macia's February 2013 murder.

The taxi driver died in a police cell hours after being handcuffed to a police van and dragged through the streets of Daveyton in front of an angry crowd. He was found with his head in a pool of blood.

A video of the incident went viral, causing international outrage.

Bam found that all of the policemen had known Macia was being dragged behind the police van, but did nothing to assist him and then launched a further cowardly attack in the cell on a defenceless and already seriously injured man.

"Although the murder was not preplanned or premeditated, the facts proved that the form of mens rea [criminal intent] was dolus eventualis.

"It means that the accused foresaw the possibility that the deceased could die as a result of their conduct and did nothing to refrain, stop or prevent the infliction of serious injuries and therefore reconciled themselves with his death."

The judge went on to say that the deceased was a "family man with obligations to his dependants".

"His family is now left without a breadwinner. The emotional effect on [them] is probably incalculable.

"The community depends on the police for protection and safety. Rogue policemen, for obvious reasons, are unacceptable in society and cannot be tolerated."

Bam said that although policemen were often subjected to "rude, provocative behaviour by members of the public", they were still expected to conduct themselves within the ambit of the law.

"This includes that they have to respect the individuals' right protected in our constitution.

"Of course policemen are entitled to use reasonable force to effect arrest. In this case, regrettably, that right was abused, with dire consequences," the judge said.

He said it was probable that Malele and Mgema had misled the rest to believe that Macia's arrest was lawful, but they then unlawfully attached him to the vehicle, dragged him behind it and continued up to the point where Macia was fatally injured in the cells.

"The whole incident that fateful day lasted a few hours and got totally out of control," he said.

‘Life imprisonment would be disproportionate’

Bam, however, ruled that life imprisonment would be disproportionate to the crime as the problem started when Macia became "arrogant and aggressive" when confronted with a traffic violation. The policemen had also subjectively believed he was resisting arrest.

The gathering of the angry crowd further complicated matters.

Bam found in mitigation that the accused were on duty that day and all had good service records and no previous convictions. They had lost their employment and their future was bleak, but their chances of rehabilitation were good.

However, Bam stressed in aggravation that Macia's arrest and dragging was totally unnecessary, uncalled for and not justified at all.

"The accused attempted to hide behind their right as law enforcement officers to use reasonable force to arrest and detain the deceased. They clearly abused this right.

"What happened in the cell... is regarded as a seriously aggravating factor... [Their] continued conduct concerning the serious injuries inflicted on the deceased was most barbaric and totally unnecessary.

"The accused, unfortunately, did not show any remorse. All of them maintained they're innocent," said Bam.

One of the defence advocates, Benny Ndaba, said the accused would seek a second opinion and intended to appeal against the ruling.

Source News 24