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Fresh footage casts doubts on police claims taxi driver assaulted officer and tried to take his gun before incident

    WARNING: Viewers may find this footage distressing Link to video: South African police officers suspended as van death investigated

    South Africa has suspended eight police officers after the death of a man they tied to the back of a police van and dragged along the road while bystanders looked on.

    Video footage showing the treatment of Mido Macia, in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, has once more focused attention on South Africa‘s police force, already dogged by allegations of brutality, corruption and incompetence.

    In the amateur video footage (warning: contains images that some may find distressing), published by South African newspaper, the Daily Sun, Macia’s hands are tied to the rear of a police van behind his head before it moves off. Just over two hours later he was found dead in a local police cell, according to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). A postmortem gave the cause of death as head injuries with internal bleeding.

    The video provoked outrage with President Jacob Zuma labelling it “horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner.” He has instructed the minister of police to investigate the matter.

    Police chief Riah Phiyega said the eight officers involved had been suspended and the station commander would be removed from his duties. “We would like to assure the country and the world that what is in the video is not how the South African police service in a democratic South Africa goes about its work,” she said.

    The IPID responded by launching an inquiry and giving details of the police version of events. The police account alleged that Macia, 27, a taxi driver from Mozambique, assaulted an officer and took his firearm after officers asked him to move his taxi because it was obstructing traffic. They admitted only that there was a “struggle” to get the taxi driver into the police van.