/ 12 March 2013

Police van driver says he did not know he was dragging Macia

Protesters outside the Benoni Magistrate's Court.
Protesters outside the Benoni Magistrate's Court.

Defence lawyer Elias Tshole said in the Benoni Magistrate's Court on Tuesday that the driver stated in an affidavit that he looked in the rear-view mirrors and did not see Macia.

"If someone is underneath [the vehicle] there is no way you will see them [in the rear-view mirrors]."

Another accused saw Macia being dragged and tried to intervene. "I ran to try alert the person driving that bakkie that there was someone dragging [behind it]," this man said in an affidavit.

Tshole argued this was consistent with the accused trying to save a life. Nine police officers are applying for bail after being arrested and charged with killing Macia.

They are: Thamsanqa Ncema (35), Linda Sololo (56), Meshack Malele (45), Motome Walter Ramatlou (37), Percy Mnisi (26), Bongumusa Mdluli (25), Sipho Ngobeni (30), Lungisa Ewababa (31) and Bongani Kolisi (27).

Macia was filmed being tied to the back of a police van and dragged along a street in Daveyton on February 26. An eyewitness gave the footage to the Daily Sun newspaper. Macia was found dead in the police station's holding cells several hours later.

Common purpose
Tshole said: "Were they all dragging the deceased? Clearly, no."

He said the circumstances would not support allegations that the police officers acted with common purpose, as the rules of common purpose did not pertain to the matter.

"If this court was sitting as a trial court today, they would be acquitted."

Tshole said the accused, as police officers, helped to maintain peace and security in the country. He said their release on bail would not compromise security. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate was handling the matter.

"It is currently an open secret they are suspended from work," Tshole said.

"They cannot destroy evidence." The accused would also not intimidate witnesses, because they have no access to any relevant information or witnesses.

Culpable homicide case
The men also did not have the means to flee the country, he argued. On Monday, the court heard Macia was in an accident several days before his death.

"A few days before his death he was involved in a car accident with schoolchildren," defence lawyer Lokhimbar Dikatope said.

"Five of them [the children] died as a result. A case of culpable homicide was opened against him."

On Monday the court heard that an autopsy found Macia suffered extensive internal and external injuries and died from oxygen deprivation, a condition known as hypoxia.

Earlier, magistrate Sam Makamu denied an application by the defence to shut down an overflowing room with a live feed of court proceedings. – Sapa