Johannesburg - Eight policemen from Daveyton police station, accused of dragging Mido Macia behind a police van last February, have been fired.
Macia, a Mozambican national, was found dead in the Ekurhuleni police station’s holding cells two hours later. He was wearing only his underwear and socks.
An autopsy found that he died from head injuries and internal bleeding.
Harrowing cellphone footage appeared to show police officers knocking Macia, a taxi driver, to the ground, then tying him to the back of the van. They then drove off, dragging him behind the van for about 400m.
The amateur footage of the dragging went viral and led to widespread condemnation of police brutality, and ultimately the suspension of the police officers. They were then charged with his murder.
The officers claimed they had confronted Macia for refusing to move his minibus taxi, which was obstructing traffic.
On Thursday, constables Lungisa Chalmers Gwababa, Bongani Kolisi, Percy Jonathan Mnisi, Bongumusa Mdluli, Sipho Sidwell Ngobeni, Mbongeleni Thamsanqa Ngema and warrant officers Alfred Linda Sololo and Mishack Malele were fired.
National police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said the SAPS internal disciplinary team had found the officers guilty of failing to “uphold and protect the fundamental rights of the complainant” and of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
They had also “failed without justification to disclose knowledge about the incident to the SAPS or to take reasonable steps to help the SAPS acquire that knowledge of the assault and/or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of the complainant”.
In addition, they made false statements in the execution of their duties, and arrested Macia under circumstances “where he should not have been arrested”.
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega announced the dismissals.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of what was said to be a thorough process,” she said.
“I want every SAPS member to know that I will fight for them to the hilt if they do their work in accordance with our prescripts and code of conduct. Those who do not do their work in accordance with our prescripts and code of conduct, such as committing criminal misconduct, can expect to find themselves outside the SAPS,” Phiyega warned.
“Together with the leadership team, we have resolved not to tolerate criminality within the police.
“We want to offer a service that is professional, caring and respects the human rights of the suspects we are in contact with.”
Phiyega said there was no excuse for the conduct of the members involved.
“The death of Mido Macia at the hands of these police officers has negatively affected the reputation of the SAPS. The sanction of dismissal is therefore welcomed, and we believe it will send the correct message to other officers,” she added.
Said Makgale: “Their dismissal brings the number of police officers dismissed over the past six months in Gauteng to 70.”
On Thursday night, Macia’s cousin Carlos Mutimucuio welcomed the decision to fire the rogue policemen.
“I’m happy that they have been dismissed from the SAPS. But I’m still not happy that they have not been found guilty of his murder in a court of law. The court keeps on postponing the case. I want them to rot in jail,” Mutimucuio said.
“I know there are court processes that must be followed, but this is too painful for us as the family.”
The policemen have pleaded not guilty to Macia’s murder and are currently out on bail of R5 000 each.
The case was postponed to February 16 next year, which would be two years after Macia died in custody.