State witnesses contradict police on Macia dragging incident

2015-07-28 21:27
Mido Macia (Picture: AP)

Mido Macia (Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - The trial of nine policeman allegedly responsible for the death of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia began on Tuesday in the High Court in Pretoria with both of the State's witnesses contradicting the policemen's version of events. 

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 tied to the back of a police van and dragged down a street in Daveyton on February 26 2013, went viral and 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. 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 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.

'You are not a person from South Africa'

Prosecutor Charles Mnisi first called Lindiwe Ngwenya, an in-law of Macia's who had also grown up with him, who told the court of Macia's confrontation with police on Eiselen Street.

A police officer who had stopped Macia demanded his drivers licence, and later said to the taxi driver, "You are parked wrong and you are not a person from South Africa", Ngwenya testified.

She then moved away to a public phone and when she came back, Macia's Avanza was no longer there.

Ngwenya then saw the Avanza driven by a police officer who was not in uniform, with other police officers then arriving on the scene. They tried forcing Macia into the back of a police van. 

"In the end, ... they grabbed him [Macia] and they put him in the back, but they did not succeed and he again came out from the back. They grabbed him and they fastened his hands at the back of the van," Ngwenya testified.

"As they were driving away, members of the community started throwing stones at the van. One police officer fired two shots in the air and people dispersed."

Asked by Mnisi whether it was true that Macia had reached for a policeman's firearm prior to his arrest, Ngwenya replied: "That did not happen."

Dragging was 'an accident'

During Ngwenya's cross-examination by defence lawyer Marius van Wyngaardt, representing five of the accused, the police's version emerged. They say Macia's dragging was an accident.

Van Wyngaardt told the court the open handcuffs had accidently hooked onto one of the legs of a bench inside in the police van as officers attempted to get Macia inside.

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

Van Wyngaardt said, at this stage, the community was throwing stones at police and putting them in danger, and what Ngwenya had in fact seen was two of the officers attempting to get Macia inside the vehicle.

"At that stage, accused number 6 [Ewababa] was unaware of the fact that the deceased was hanging from the hand cuffs and was hanging on the back of the van, on the road surface," he said.

Ngwenya said that was not correct.

'They were surrounding him'

"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."

After Ngwenya was excused, the State called Mahlatse Sekwati. Sekwati took a video of what happened on the day, and prior to it being shown in court, testified as to what she saw.

She said police demanded Macias' license, which they took along with the keys to his Avanza, with one officer in uniform and the other in plain clothes.

The officer in plain clothes drove away in Macia's car, while the uniformed officer remained where Macia argued with him - a scene captured in Sekwati's video. While Macia was remonstrating with the uniformed officer, the officer who took his car arrived, followed by others.

"They had a conversation. Mido continued to be aggressive, then they grabbed him by the trousers. They wanted to take him to the van. He was busy fighting, they took him to the van, they wanted to put him inside the van and he was resisting."

Sekwati said police hand cuffed him to the police van after Macia had attempted to resist them, which caused members of the public to surround the vehicle calling for him to be unfastened.

She later saw Macia dragged down the street by the police van. Two police officers grabbed his feet then let go as the vehicle sped up towards Hlakwana Street. 

Asked by prosecutor Charles Mnizi whether she saw Macia take possession of a policeman's firearm, Sekwati said he had not.

Sekwati's video was played to the court, followed by the initial video which had emerged two years earlier that had caused the initial public uproar. 

Judge Bert Bam then adjourned proceedings to Wednesday morning, where Sekwati would be cross-examined by the policemen's defence lawyers.

Read more on:    saps  |  mido macia  |  johannesburg  |  crime

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.