/ 3 May 2013

Daveyton cops accused of taxi-driver death denied bail

Magistrate Sam Makamu said he felt it was not in the interest of justice to grant the murder accused bail.
Magistrate Sam Makamu said he felt it was not in the interest of justice to grant the murder accused bail.

The North Gauteng High Court was clear that the nine policemen had from the outset been bent on concealing the truth and the gravity of the assault on Macia.

Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann described the case as "exceptional because of its distressing nature".

Macia was filmed being handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged along a street in Daveyton on February 26. He was found dead in the local police station's holding cells several hours later.

All nine accused were admittedly in some or other way involved in the occurrences which led to Macia's death. Bertelsmann said the accused had failed to render assistance to the seriously injured Macia.

The information they provided was blatantly false, misleading and aimed at defeating justice and putting any investigators off the scent.

The Benoni magistrate who refused them bail had been correct in finding there was a likelihood that they would interfere with witnesses or frustrate the course of justice.

That threat could not be discounted, at least until the investigation had been completed, he said.

Murder charges
Warrant officers Meshack Malele, Linda Sololo and constables Thamisanqa Ngema, Percy Mnisi, Bongumusa Mdluli, Sihpo Ngobeni, Lungisa Gwababa, Bongani Kolisi and Motome Ramatlou have been charged with murdering Macia.

They are due to appear in the Benoni Magistrate's Court again later this month.

Bertelsmann said it was common cause that Macia had been dragged for some distance behind a police van, after he was rendered defenceless by being handcuffed to the van.

He was arrested and placed in a cell at the Daveyton police station where he died shortly thereafter. His jeans were removed before he was put in the cell and were later found in another section of the police station, but his shoes were never found.

None of the accused reported his condition to the station commander or called a medical doctor or ambulance to assist him.

None of them made an entry in the station's occurrence book, other than a false and misleading entry the day after his death, stating that he had been arrested for armed robbery, without mentioning his condition.

Post mortem
In sworn statements some of the accused said Macia had no injuries when he arrived at the police station. Bertelsmann said the post mortem revealed very serious injuries, which meant that these statements were false.

"The deep cuts caused by handcuffs to the deceased's forearms must have been sustained almost immediately, and must have been glaringly obvious when he was brought to the police station.

"When the deceased was brought to the police station, none of them followed prescribed procedure or saw to it that he received medical attention.

"Not one of them ever made an honest entry in the occurrence book.

"There is no explanation provided why the deceased was placed in a cell without his jeans and why his shoes were never found," he said.

Bertelsmann said while public outrage about the incident might subside, the same could not be said for the threat the accused presented to the orderly conduct of the trial or the likelihood that they would attempt to influence witnesses.

Attorney Jose Nascimento, who has a watching brief on behalf of Macia's family and the Mozambique government, said negotiations would take place with the South African government with the hope of getting compensation for his family's loss of support.

The 27-year-old Macia supported not only a child and wife in Mozambique but also two nephews and his deceased brother's three children. – Sapa