News / Africa

South African Police Officers Charged with Murder

South African police officers arrested on suspicion of murder appear for bail hearing east of Johannesburg on March 11, 2013.  Nine South African policemen pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering a Mozambican taxi driver who has handcuffed and dragged behind a police vehicle.
South African police officers arrested on suspicion of murder appear for bail hearing east of Johannesburg on March 11, 2013. Nine South African policemen pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering a Mozambican taxi driver who has handcuffed and dragged behind a police vehicle.
Anita Powell
Nine South African police officers appeared for a bail hearing Monday in Johannesburg after being charged with murder in the death of the taxi driver, a Mozambican immigrant. Mido Macia, a 27-year old taxi driver, died last month after being arrested by police in eastern Johannesburg.  Police had said he was resisting arrest for parking his taxi illegally.

Macia is one of hundreds of people who die at the hands of South African police each year.  But his case has drawn international attention, because one enterprising eyewitness filmed police dragging the young man through the street from the back of a police van.  Macia died later that day in police custody. 

An autopsy report read in court Monday said he died of lack of oxygen. The report, read by the prosecutor, also noted he had lacerations on his head, scalp and jaw, and abrasions on his face, legs, arms and back.

There are three main issues in this case, said South African Human Rights Commission CEO Kayum Ahmed. The primary problem, he said, is that police are failing to obey their mandate to protect human rights. He also criticized police for their history of treating immigrants differently, and said he was concerned that the crowd around Macia was too afraid to act as he was being dragged.

His organization has found police are trained in human rights issues, and so he believes the fundamental problem lies with top leadership.

“If we assume that police officers are taught about human rights principles and we assume that most police officers are essentially interested in upholding the law and in justice, I believe that the reason why some police officers are unable to apply these principles and values must be because of the challenges at the leadership level within in the police, as opposed to a compassion deficit perhaps amongst police officers.  It is probably more a question of a leadership deficit," Ahmed said.

Police in South Africa drew strong criticism last August when they fired on striking miners at a platinum mine, killing 34 of them.  Police came under new scrutiny last month when it was revealed the lead detective in case of case of athlete Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, was facing seven counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a minibus.

The nation’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate has said deaths in police custody or as a result of police action have fallen 10 percent.  But in the past year, the Independent Complaints Directorate documented 720 such deaths. The agency said that number was “unacceptably high.”

A spokesman for the directorate declined to comment when asked what police should to do bring that figure down.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid