Johannesburg - Justice has stalled for Mido Macia, the man dragged through the streets of Daveyton on the back of a police van more than a year ago.
On Monday, the trial of nine policemen accused of dragging and beating the Mozambican taxi driver to death was expected to start.
But the starting date has been postponed once again to February 16 next year – which would be two years after Macia died in police custody.
Outside the Delmas Circuit Court, Macia’s relatives expressed their frustration at the way the court was dragging its feet. “I am not feeling well,” said Macia’s cousin Carlos Mutimucuio, “because now it’s two years.”
He turned away. “I am tired of talking,” he said.
This is the second postponement in the case. Six months ago, prosecutors adjourned the case to give the accused time to secure legal representation.
Macia’s case gained international notoriety last February after a video went viral depicting him being tied to the back of a police van and dragged through the streets, amid a crowd of onlookers.
The officers later said they had confronted Macia for refusing to move his minibus taxi, which was obstructing traffic.
The officers alleged Macia was alive when they detained him at the police station, and that they took no part in his death.
But Macia’s cellmates later told the Daily Sun that he was beaten up in custody.
He was found dead in his holding cell, wearing only underwear and socks.
Macia’s story has raised concerns over corruption, brutality and xenophobia in the police service.
In 2012, nearly 1 000 people died in police custody or as a result of police action, according to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
“In South Africa, there are no laws protecting foreigners,” said Dinis Ngwenya, Macia’s mother-in-law, who was dressed in mourning black, down to her beaded necklace.
Back in Mozambique, Macia’s relatives are suffering.
His taxi driver’s salary had been supporting his wife Angelique, their son, and the two daughters of his brother, who died in a car crash in 2003.
“The South African government has given them nothing,” Ngwenya said. “Not one thing.”
Annalie Coetzee, who was standing in for prosecutor Hitler Thenga, said the case had been postponed because the court was engaged with another matter.
However, she said she “had it on good authority” that the authorities were considering transferring the case to Pretoria.
The nine policemen are out on bail.
Ngwenya, who has been wary of the police since her son-in-law’s death, said their bail made her nervous. “I’m (afraid) because those guys are outside,” she said, referring to the officers. “I’m feeling bad in my blood.”