South Africa memorial service for dragged taxi driver

BY: Sebastian Syme

A memorial service has been held in South Africa for the young Mozambican taxi driver who died last week after being dragged behind a police van.

Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, was among the mourners at the sports stadium in Daveyton near Johannesburg.

Mido Macia, 27, died of head injuries and internal bleeding after his arrest.

An investigation was launched after video footage emerged showing Mr Macia being hauled through the streets with his hands cuffed to a police van.

President Jacob Zuma called the incident "horrific" and "unacceptable".

Hundreds of mourners

Eight police officers were charged with murder last Friday - three days after the fatal incident.

They are expected to appear in court this coming Friday to make a formal bail application.

Hundreds of mourners attended the memorial service in Daveyton, where last week Mr Macia was reportedly detained for parking his vehicle in a way that blocked traffic.

Ms Machel told the BBC's Peter Biles that the case showed that "South Africa is struggling in terms of how we deal with our emotions, how we relate to one another".

"The level of anger, the level of aggression, the level of violence in which we relate to one another, I think it expresses a much deeper trouble we have to deal with our past," she said.

Ms Machel was born in Mozambique and was its first lady, having been married to Mozambican President Samora Machel until his death in 1986.

There was initially a light police presence at the memorial but officers were booed by mourners and left the service.

The video, apparently recorded by a bystander on a mobile phone, shows a large crowd watching as uniformed policemen tied him to the van, dragging him as they drove away.

Public anger grew after the footage was broadcast on television.

South Africa's police watchdog - the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) - is examining the video as part of its investigation.

The police force was already under intense scrutiny after officers shot dead 34 striking miners last August.

Its credibility was also dented when it emerged that the lead detective in the murder case against athlete Oscar Pistorius was himself facing accusations of attempted murder in an unrelated case.

The police service said it would give its full support to the IPID.

According to media in Mozambique, Mr Macia will be buried outside the Mozambican capital, Maputo, on Saturday.