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Eight Daveyton police officers have been suspended for allegedly dragging a taxi driver behind a police van, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Friday morning.
“I have also instructed that the officers involved be disarmed,” she said during a media briefing in Pretoria.
“We are also removing the current station commander of Daveyton police station from his position, so that investigations can proceed uninhibited.
“We are equally outraged with what happened,” Phiyega said.
The suspension came after a video, taken by an eyewitness, showed police officers dragging Mozambican national Mido Macia, 27, behind a police van on Tuesday.
Macia was later found dead in the holding cells of the Daveyton police station.
“From the video, which has gone viral, it is obvious that the rights of Mido Marcia were violated in the most extreme form,” Phiyega said.
“The behaviour displayed in that video, when committed by police who are expected to serve and protect, is to be abhorred by all right-thinking people.”
She had instructed that an internal investigation in terms of police disciplinary procedures be initiated immediately. This investigation would be fast-tracked, Phiyega said.
She also confirmed that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was already busy with an investigation.
“I would like to assure the Ipid and the country that the SAPS will give Ipid any support it needs in order for them to conduct their investigation.”
Phiyega said the police service supported the principle of being policed and it would be transparent about the outcome of the investigation.
“We thank the community in advance for bringing to our attention and the attention of the public the callous act that we all witnessed.”
Phiyega urged all witnesses to come forward and co-operate with the investigation.
“The conduct of the members clearly goes against the values that the SAPS represent. All SAPS members are expected to respect and uphold the law at all times and avoid at all costs any conduct that makes us violators of the law,” she said.
“The behaviour of the suspended members is therefore condemned in the strongest terms.” - Sapa