Police dragged Macia by accident - defence

By Drum Digital
28 July 2015

Police have denied playing any part in Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia's death, and have claimed he was alive when he was put in the cell.

Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia became attached to a police van and was dragged down a Daveyton street by accident, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

Marius van Wyngaardt, defence lawyer for five of the nine policemen implicated in Macia's murder, was cross-examining State witness Lindiwe Ngwenya when the police's version of events emerged.

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

Police say they had a confrontation with Macia on February 26 2013, when he refused to move his taxi, which was obstructing traffic.

Macia was found dead in the police holding cells several hours later. He was wearing his underwear and socks. His trousers were later found in another part of the police station.

A post-mortem found that he 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.

Van Wyngaardt told the court that open handcuffs accidentally hooked onto a leg on the left side of the bench inside the police van as police attempted to get Macia inside.

'Scared for their own safety'

Ngwenya queried how it could have been an accident when she saw two officers grab Macia's legs.

Van Wyngaardt said by this stage the community were throwing stones at police and putting them in danger, and what she saw was two of the officers attempting to get Macia inside the vehicle.

"He [Ewababa] was scared for their own safety and the safety of the police vehicle as a result of the actions of the community," he said.

Ngwenya replied: "Members of the community started behaving badly when they saw the behaviour of the police".

Van Wyngaardt responded, "Ma'am, accused number 6 [Ewababa] will say to the court that just after he got into the driver's side of the van, he can remember accused number seven coming to the driver's side, but could not hear what accused number seven was saying to him.

"During this time the right back window of the double cab of the police van was also shattered with a brick or something by the community members."

Ngwenya said community members broke the window when police were already dragging Macia down the street.

'When the van reversed they were looking at him'

Van Wyngaardt said Ewababa would tell the court he heard a firearm being discharged, and there was a car parked in front of the police van which caused him to reverse.

"At that stage, accused number six [Ewababa] was unaware of the fact that the deceased was hanging from the handcuffs and was hanging on the back of the van, on the road surface," he said.

Ngweyna said that was not correct.

"He [Ewababa] saw him, he was at the back, they [the police officers] were surrounding him... and they were standing in front of him looking at him. When the van reversed they were looking at him."

Van Wyngaardt said Ewababa had started driving to the police station, and at no stage was aware Macia was at the back of van being dragged, which produced murmurs from the gallery.

Ngwenya told the court there was a police vehicle following the van from behind and it could have put its sirens on to let Ewababa know Macia was being dragged.

Van Wyngaardt said the second police car drove after the van and flicked its lights to signal to Ewababa to stop.

Ngwenya said if Ewababa had not seen the other police car, it should have radioed him to stop.

Van Wyngaardt told the court that police drove about 100m down Eiselen Street, then turned onto another street where the second police car managed to get Ewababa's attention to stop. Ngwenya said she did not see that happen.

He said once Macia was loaded into the police van, he was taken about 300m down the street to the police station, where he was handed over to the cell commander of the station.

The trial continues.

Source: News24

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