The eight former Daveyton policemen who dragged Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia behind a police van, causing his death, have been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each.
Judge Bert Bam said he accepted that life imprisonment would not be appropriate in light of the fact that the accused were on duty, all had exemplary service records and that Macia’s conduct that day had been provocative.
He however described their conduct in dragging Macia behind a police van and then further assaulting the already seriously injured and helpless man further in the cells as barbaric.
The Judge earlier ruled that all of the policemen had known Macia was being dragged and realised he could be seriously injured and die, but did nothing to assist him.
He sentenced former policemen Meshack Malele, Thamsanqa Ngema, Percy Mnisi, Bongamusa Mdluli, Sipho Ngobeni, Lungisa Gwababa, Bngani Kolisi and Linda Sololo to long terms of imprisonment for murdering Macia in February 2013.
Macia died in a pool of blood alone in a cell at the Daveyton police station hours after being handcuffed to the inside of a police van and dragged through the streets of Daveyton in full view of the angry community, who stared pelting the police van with rocks.
A pathologist testified that he had sustained multiple soft tissue injuries which resulted in a lack of oxygen and his death. The doctor said many of the injuries were the result of blunt force violence and Macia had probably been kicked on his private parts.
The accused were arrested after a video of the incident went viral, causing international outrage about police brutality.
Judge Bam earlier found that Macia’s arrest for obstructing traffic had been unlawful and that the subsequent attempts to get the fiercely resisting Macia into the back of the police van amounted to assault, as he had the right to resist arrest.
He said it was clear that Macia was arrested to punish him for being rude to the police.
He rejected claims by Malele and Ngema that Macia had attacked Malele and robbed him of his firearm before his arrest.
He found that all of the accused, except Malele, had further assaulted Macia in the police cells after the dragging, well knowing that he was already injured.
All of them knew that Macia would sustain serious injuries and could die, but did nothing to prevent his dragging.
Malele, as the senior officer at the scene and the arresting officer, had a duty to see to it that the detainee was not injured in his presence and to ensure that he received timeous medical assistance, but did nothing to help Macia, he said.