South African police suspended over death of man ‘dragged behind van’


(video below)

South Africa has suspended eight police officers after the death of a man they tied to the back of a police van and dragged along the road while bystanders looked on.

In the amateur video footage published by South African newspaper, the Daily Sun, Macia’s hands are tied to the rear of a police van behind his head before it moves off.

Just over two hours later he was found dead in a local police cell, according to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). A postmortem gave the cause of death as head injuries with internal bleeding.

The video provoked outrage with President Jacob Zuma labelling it "horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner." He has instructed the minister of police to investigate the matter.

Police chief Riah Phiyega said the eight officers involved had been suspended and the station commander would be removed from his duties. "We would like to assure the country and the world that what is in the video is not how the South African police service in a democratic South Africa goes about its work," she said.

The IPID responded by launching an inquiry and giving details of the police version of events. The police account alleged that Macia, 27, a taxi driver from Mozambique, assaulted an officer and took his firearm after officers asked him to move his taxi because it was obstructing traffic. They admitted only that there was a "struggle" to get the taxi driver into the police van.

But a further video published by the Daily Sun and provided to the Guardian casts doubt on the account. The new footage suggests Macia did not grab the gun or use violence against police, only struggling to free himself as police seized him and lifted him off his feet.

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