The High Court in Pretoria was shown a new video on Tuesday of Mido Macia’s arrest, showing how agitated the Mozambican taxi driver was before being dragged down a Daveyton street by a police van.
Mahlatse Sekwati, the State’s second witness, shot the video. Prior to it being shown in court, she testified to what happened on Eiselen Street on February 26 2013.
Thamsanqa Ncema, Linda Sololo, Meshack Malele, Motome Walter Ramatlou, Percy Mnisi, Bongumusa Mdluli, Sipho Ngobeni, Lungisa Ewababa, and Bongani Kolisi were arrested after a separate video showing Macia being tied to the back of a police van and dragged down the street in Daveyton went viral and caused public outrage.
Police say they had a confrontation with Macia when he refused to move his taxi, which was obstructing traffic.
Died from a lack of oxygen
Macia was found dead in the police holding cells several hours later. He was wearing his underwear and socks. His trousers were later found in another part of the police station.
A post-mortem found that he had died from a lack of oxygen. The police have denied playing any part in Macia’s death and say he was alive when he was put in the cell.
Sekwati was on Eiselen Street that day helping her mother serve fruit and vegetables next to the taxi rank.
She saw a police car approach. Several cars were in a line on the street and two officers approached Macia to tell him to make way, as his car was blocking the others.
Sekwati testified through an interpreter in Zulu.
She said an argument ensued when police approached Mido, who was “aggressive”.
‘They fastened him on to the motor vehicle’
They demanded a licence from Macia, which they took, along with the keys to his Avanza. One officer was in uniform and the other in plain clothes.
“This other police officer was not wearing a uniform. He drove away in the Avanza belonging to Mido. The one who was wearing a uniform remained.
“Mido was having an argument with him, demanding his licence back because they [already took the motor vehicle],” Sekwati told the court.
“The police officer in uniform did not hand over the licence. They kept on arguing until the return of this other police officer who was not in uniform. As they were talking to him, other police officers arrived.
“They had a conversation. Mido continued to be aggressive, then they grabbed him by the trousers. They wanted to take him to the van. He was busy fighting, they took him to the van, they wanted to put him inside the van and he was resisting.”
She said as Macia resisted, police officers “ended up handcuffing him and they fastened him on to the motor vehicle”.
“When they fastened him, people moved closer. They wanted the police to not fasten him and it was at that stage police fired a shot.
“People were moving closer and they were … using the words ‘Hey, hey’ … saying ‘No, don’t do such a thing’.”
Two police officers grabbed his feet
Later she saw Macia dragged down the street by the police van. Two police officers grabbed his feet and the van drove slowly away. Before the van entered Hlakwana Street, it sped up and the two police officers let go of Macia’s feet.
Sekwati recorded what happened on her cellphone and handed the footage to police. She was not sure what happened to it.
Asked by prosecutor Charles Mnizi whether she saw Macia take possession of a policeman’s firearm, Sekwati said she had not.
When Sekwati’s footage was played before the court, Macia appeared to be angrily remonstrating with police, as they stood in the middle of the road while the police officer had a cellphone in his hand.
The second police officer, not in uniform, then moved into the picture. Others then arrived and they grabbed Macia. A scuffle ensued with the policemen surrounding Macia.
The short clip ends in darkness, with Sekwati having lowered the phone after she heard a gunshot. She was not sure who fired the shot.
The initial video, which first appeared on social media in 2013, was then played to the court. Judge Bert Bam observed the video and made comments for the record. The nine policemen looked on from the dock.
Bam adjourned proceedings to Wednesday morning, when Sekwati will be cross-examined by the policemen’s defence lawyers.