A disturbing video of man being dragged behind a vehicle by uniformed South African police officers—because of a parking violation—has outraged even a country known for horrifying acts of police brutality. The victim, a 27-year-old taxi driver from Mozambique named Mido Macia, was later found dead in his cell at a local police station, from apparent head injuries and internal bleeding. The Daily Sun, a South African newspaper, reported that inmates at the Daveyton police station where Macia was taken claimed he was beaten to death by officers after he arrived.
Amateur footage of the incident appears to show a group of officers attempting to put Macia in the back of a police van, but he is resisting arrest. When they are unable to lift him into the van, he is handcuffed to the back of the vehicle instead. When he continues to resist attempts to pick him up, the van slowly pulls away. It inches forward very slowly at first, with two of the officers briefly holding Macia off the ground, but as it accelerates they drop him and the van speeds off with Macia dragging along the pavement. There are estimates that he was dragged about 400 yards in total.
The raw video is posted below. While not bloody or particularly graphic, some viewers may still find it disturbing to watch.
Perhaps the most shocking fact of all is that the whole incident happened in front of a large crowd of onlookers, some of whom reportedly cheered on the police. Tuesday's incident has brought condemnation from all levels of South African society, though a spokesman for the independent police watchdog group that will investigate the incident said, "The circumstances surrounding his death are still allegations... Let's find out what really happened."
Amnesty International recorded more than 700 cases of suspicious deaths of suspects in police custody between April 2011 and March 2012, although that actually represented a decline in such incidents over the year before. Last summer, police trying to quell a protest by striking miners opened fire on a crowd, killing 34 people. That also took place in full view of cameras. Macia was allegedly accused of parking illegally.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.