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South Africa suspends taxi driver arrest 'drag' police

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

South African police officers implicated in the death of a Mozambican taxi driver dragged down a street tied to a back of a van have been suspended.

The incident was recorded by a bystander and broadcast on television. The man later died in police custody.

Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega thanked people for revealing "callous and unacceptable behaviour".

South African President Jacob Zuma had already condemned the incident as "horrific" and "unacceptable".

Taxi driver Mido Macia, 27, died of head injuries and internal bleeding after his arrest in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, an initial post-mortem found.

He was reportedly detained for parking his vehicle in a way that blocked traffic.

The video shows a large crowd gathering, as uniformed policemen tie him to a van, dragging him as they drive away.

'Shock and outrage'

The BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg says a small crowd, mostly women, gathered on Friday morning outside the police station where the 27-year-old taxi driver died in the holding cells.

Some of the chants blamed the police for brutality.

Commissioner Phiyega said that the eight officers allegedly involved had been suspended and disarmed and the local station commander had been removed from his post.

The South African Police Service expressed "extreme shock and outrage" at the mobile phone footage.

"From the video which has gone viral, it is obvious that the rights of Mido Macia were violated in the most extreme form," it said in a statement,

"The behaviour displayed in that video, when it is committed by police who are expected to serve and protect, is to be abhorred," it added.

In a statement, the opposition Democratic Alliance questioned why Commissioner Phiyega had not ordered the arrest of the officers.

"We need to tackle the causes of police brutality, not just the symptoms," Dianne Kohler, the DA's shadow police minister, added.

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He was a very humble guy; he leaves behind one child in South Africa”

Justin NdlovuBenoni Taxi Association

South Africa's 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 accused of attempted murder.

The police service said it would give its full support to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate as it looked into Mr Macia's death.

"We fully support the principle of police being policed and we shall be transparent about the outcome of the investigation," it said.

Justin Ndlovu, the chair of the Benoni Taxi Association, said he knew Mr Macia and had last seen him last week.

"He was a very humble guy; he leaves behind one child in South Africa," he told the BBC.

"His brother died last year and he had become the guardian of his brother's wife and three children [also living in South Africa]."

BBC