Half-naked Macia hit in police cells - witness

2015-07-29 16:59
(Adam Wakefield, News24)

(Adam Wakefield, News24)

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Pretoria - A half-naked Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia was struck with an open hand while handcuffed in the Daveyton police cells, after he was dragged down a street behind a police van, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

In explosive testimony, Warrant Officer Mpumzi Ngamlana, the cell commander at the Daveyton police station, told the court he was on duty on February 26 2013, when Macia was brought into the cells at about 18:45.

"He [Macia] was brought in by members who were working with me, in a group," he told the court through an interpreter.

"In the cells, they came in following each other. Constable Ewababa, Constable Mdluli, Constable Kolisi, Constable Mnisi, and the others followed as they were going inside."

Asked by prosecutor Charles Mnisi who the others were, Ngamlana named Warrant Officer Linda Sololo, Constable Thamsanqa Ncema and Constable Sipho Ngobeni.

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

Macia was found dead in the police holding cells several hours later. A post-mortem found 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.

Ngamlana testified Macia was not wearing trousers when he was brought to the cells.

"He was just wearing his underpants. The trousers were not there. He was wearing a T-shirt on his upper body as well as his socks," he said.

"The other persons who had arrested [him], they were carrying him... They were carrying him with hands, supporting him."

Asked by Mnisi if Macia was able to walk on his own, Ngamlana, who has served on the police force for 29 years, could see Macia could not walk because his legs were bent and they dragged on the ground.


He opened the cell for the group of officers and they went inside. When the officers entered, Ngamlana followed because he had to use the key to close the cell door.

"The noise had not died down because the person they had brought there was busy crying. He was complaining about his ID and his driver's licence. He was alleging they had taken his driver’s licence."

He said the police officers present then asked Macia what he was doing and why he had blocked traffic.

An argument took place between the assembled police and Macia, with Macia falling down at one point.

It was at that point that he heard the sound of beating with open hands by the police, he said.

"The incident took place at the door of the waiting cell. The police officers, they had covered him in order for me not to see who was doing what."

Asked by Judge Bert Bam what he meant by that, Ngamlana replied that his view had been obscured because the police had encircled Macia.

"I remember I took a chair from one of them. Constable Mdluli threatened to hit him [Macia] with a plastic chair. I had to take it from him and also reprimanded him."

Mnisi asked Ngamlana what Mdluli was doing with the chair, with Ngamlana replying, "He had lifted it high. He intended to hit him with it. That is when I took it away from him."

Pushed 'roughly' down

After Macia was struck with an open hand, he was pushed "roughly" down onto a concrete bench by the door in the waiting cell.

"There was no asking or being made to sit in an orderly manner," the warrant officer testified.

As he sat down on the bench, Macia complained about his head feeling hot, which Ngamlana noticed was bleeding. Macia was also wiping his head with a cloth. 

Ngamlana asked him who had been the arresting officer, and was told it was Warrant Officer Malele who was in the charge office at the time busy with a docket.

"Seeing that I had seen the injury, I did ask if he was ever taken for medication. I received an answer [from Constable Mdluli] which said 'He did not go there'," Ngamlana said.

He suggested to the officers that Macia be taken to a clinic, and was told by Mdluli they would do so. Ngamlana was told there had been a fight at the scene and Macia had been hit by a brick, resulting in his injury.

Given the situation, Ngamlana said he then went to fetch his relief commander Warrant Officer Mofo.

Mofo came to the cells and saw Macia there, he said.

"That is where, after having a conversation with Mofo, it was suggested we should call... the paramedics... and offer assistance," Ngamlana told the court.

"At that time, the suspect was still able to talk. I asked him his name. He told me that he's Mido Macia."

The trial continues.

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

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