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Thursday, March 7, 2013

South African Police Suspended For Dragging Cab Driver

By Damion Boycott

Police in South Africa have come under scrutiny for the death a man that was dragged by a police vehicle. The incident, which was video taped, is obviously a severe case of police brutality. The police alleged that the victim, 27 year old Mido Macia assaulted an officer and took his firearm. Two hours later Macia was found dead in a cell in police custody. Reports say that the death of Macia was caused by head injuries and internal bleeding.

The skirmish ensued after officers asked Macia to move his taxi as it was obstructing traffic. The police did not admit to any wrong doing, but admit that there was a struggle to get Macia into the police van. Amateur videos of the incident casts doubt on the police version of the story. New footage suggests that the police account is inaccurate and that Macia did not grab the gun or use violence. The chief of police, Riah Phiyega, said that the eight officers involved have been suspended and the station commander will be removed from his duty.

Even president Jacob Zuma remarked on the incident by calling it "horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner". He has called on the Minister Of Police to investigate the situation.

Amnesty Internationals Africa Director Noel Kutuwa said the incident was "the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa". This comes after South African Police have faced fierce criticism for the shooting death of 34 striking mine workers last year.

Amnesty's 2012 annual report documented allegations against the South African police of excessive force, torture, rape and "extrajudicial executions". It said the IPID received 720 new cases for investigation of suspicious deaths in custody or in other policing contexts from April 2011 to March 2012.

What's most disturbing is that the police patrol men that dragged Mr. Macia were black also. It brings to mind a record by KRS-ONE called "Black Cop", in which KRS-ONE says "it's black cops killing black kids in Johannesburg". KRS-ONE discusses the tension that exists between black police patrol men and black communities world wide.

The eight officers involved were suspended only because the incident was captured on video. If it weren't, it would probably be business as usual. The police in South Africa have been criticized in the past for being incompetent and poorly trained. The dragging death of Mr. Macia is proof of that incompetence.


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