South African judge jails eight police for Mido Macia's 'barbaric' murder

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A judge in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday sentenced eight police officers to fifteen years' imprisonment each for the 2013 murder of Mido Macia. Mozambican immigrant Macia was dragged behind a police van and beaten in what the judge called a "barbaric" attack.

File photo depicting an officer on patrol in Cape Town.
Image: Shi Zhao.

Judge Bert Bam rejected the 25-year maximum sentence, citing a lack of premeditation and the otherwise good records of the officers involved. Judge Bam said he could not be more lenient owing to a lack of remorse.

Officers confronted Macia, whose illegally parked taxi was obstructing traffic in Daveyton, near Johannesburg. Macia remonstrated; an angry crowd formed. Police responded by binding the cuffed Macia to their van and dragging him through the streets. Video footage of this sparked worldwide media attention, but the assault continued out of public view in a holding cell where Macia was beaten.

Macia succumbed to head trauma and internal bleeding. His attackers were detained when the footage emerged; President Jacob Zuma called the film "horrific, disturbing and unacceptable".

The sentence, which follows an August conviction, was welcomed by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate which says over 900 die annually either in police custody or from police action. Prosecutors and Macia's family were also welcoming; the prosecution hope the sentence has a deterrent effect although the family had hoped for stiffer punishment.

The defence has indicated an appeal is likely. The convicted officers are Meshack Malele, Thamsanqa Ngema, Percy Mnisi, Bongamusa Mdluli, Sipho Ngobeni, Lungisa Gwababa, Bongani Kolisi, and Linda Sololo.

Macia had left his girlfriend Biuda Mazive, their young son Sergio, and other family including his parents in Mozambique. He headed to South Africa to join around five million immigrant workers and support his relatives, who are suing the South African government. They seek 6.5 million rand. The government say they intend to pay but are negotiating the value.