Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Drag death man 'insulted officer''

Protesters at a South African court where police officers are testifying about a taxi driver who died in custody (AP)

A South African police officer charged with murdering a taxi driver who was dragged from a police vehicle has testified that the man insulted him and grabbed a fellow officer's gun.

The killing of Mido Macia, a Mozambican who died in police custody on February 26, shocked South Africans and viewers around the world after graphic video footage of him being tied to a vehicle by uniformed officers and dragged down a street was broadcast and posted online.

Protesters gathered outside Benoni Magistrates' Court, east of Johannesburg, to demand that the officers not be granted bail. Eight officers were initially arrested, and South African media reported that a ninth has also been detained.

During the bail hearing, the lawyer for officer Thamsanqa Ncema, 35, read his client's statement in court, the South African Press Association said. Ncema said Mr Macia, 27, was blocking the road with his car.

"I asked him to move and he insulted me and told me I am a 'useless cop'," the statement said.

Ncema said Mr Macia grabbed an officer's gun and pointed it at them before handing it back. Then an altercation started and Mr Macia was arrested when police back-up arrived, and taken to the police station in Daveyton, a township east of Johannesburg.

"I was caught by surprise to be told that the person had died, as he has never complained about any injuries," Ncema said in his statement, according to SAPA.

South Africa's police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, said Mr Macia suffered head injuries and internal bleeding.

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