Macia died in police cell, stone's throw from clinic

2015-07-29 21:34
(File: Beeld)

(File: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia was left to die in the Daveyton police cells by the officers who had arrested him, even though there was a clinic across the road from the police station, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

Warrant Officer Mpumzi Ngamlana, the cell commander at the police station, earlier testified how he had prevented Constable Bongumusa Mdluli, among seven officers in and around the cell, from hitting Macia with a plastic chair.

This was after Macia was carried into the cell half naked, his trousers missing, with his feet dragging on the floor. Ngamlana had also heard how Macia was struck by an officer with an open hand, before the taxi driver was forced onto a concrete bench in the waiting cell.

Ngamlana had noticed Macia was bleeding from the head and that he complained his head was "hot". He suggested officers take Macia to the clinic. Mdluli told him the officers would take him there.

He was also told by the officers that Macia's injuries had been caused by a fight at the scene where he was arrested. The taxi driver had apparently been hit with a brick.

Thamsanqa Ncema, Linda Sololo, Meshack Malele, Motome Walter Ramatlou, Percy Mnisi, Mdluli, Sipho Ngobeni, Lungisa Ewababa, and Bongani Kolisi were arrested after a video showing Macia tied to the back of a police van and dragged down Eiselen Street in Daveyton, went viral. The video caused public outrage.

Police say they had a confrontation with Macia when he refused to move his taxi, which was obstructing traffic.

Macia was found dead in the police holding cells several hours later. A post-mortem found that he had died from a lack of oxygen. The police have denied playing any part in Macia's death, and have claimed he was alive when he was put in the cell.

Medical assistance

Ngamlana, speaking in a steady voice to the court through a translator, testified that he went to fetch his relief commander, "Warrant Officer Mofo", to see what was going on in the cells. After Mofo came to the cells, they decided to call the paramedics to treat Macia's injuries.

He said the warrant officer and the relief commander then went to arrange for medical assistance.

Later, Ngamlana realised the ambulance had not arrived for some time.

He said he remembers going to remind the other members in the charge office about phoning for an ambulance.

"They said they had phoned for an ambulance."

In the meantime, Ngamlana said Mofo had noticed Macia was still in handcuffs.

He said he asked if it was possible for the handcuffs to be removed, but he did not remember the reply.

He said he had asked the officers who had brought Macia into the cells, as well as Warrant Officer Mofo because it "appeared the handcuffs were tight on him [Macia]".

Ngamlana said they agreed to remove the handcuffs, but the key would not work. Macia was still on the concrete bench at the time.

"As myself and Mofo were busy trying [to remove the handcuffs] we ended up finding items, a sort of pliers. It was then we were able to loosen the handcuffs."

But he said there was also another pair of handcuffs hanging from one of Macia's hands. By the time the one set of handcuffs was removed, the officers who had brought Macia into the cell, had left.

Ngamlana then left Macia in the cell, and along with a colleague, continued with his duties.

"We continued with other duties at the cells, until a time came... [when] we saw him lying down on the floor. He was lying on his back, next to the bench. I also noticed that on his one toe there was a bruise."

'Was he still alive?'

Judge Bert Bam asked Ngamlana if he had entered the cell to check on him, to which the policeman replied yes.

"Did you check that he was still alive?" Bam asked him.

"Yes, to check he was still alive. He was breathing. I kept on asking the warrant officer 'When are the paramedics going to arrive?' because he is lying that way," Ngamlana replied.

"Did you try to help him, to assist him in any way?" Bam said, to which Ngamlana said no.

Bam asked why not, with Ngamlana replying that he "did not know the ways" in which he could assist Macia.

The paramedics arrived sometime later, with Macia still lying in the cell.

"At first, two paramedics arrived. They then called the others. The other paramedics came, they kept on checking him. Warrant Officer Mofo was still with me until the time came, when they informed us... this person [Macia] has passed on."

Bam then adjourned the matter to Thursday morning, with the defence expected to begin their cross examination of Ngamlana.

Read more on:    mido macia  |  pretoria  |  police brutality  |  crime

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