JOHANNESBURG Eight South African police officers were charged with murder on Friday for the death of a taxi driver dragged by a police vehicle, a videotaped incident which became a worldwide symbol of police brutality in this country.
Earlier on Friday, friends and relatives of Mido Macia gathered around a simple table adorned with a few flowers in the poor township of Daveyton, to mourn the death the slender 27-year-old who died shortly after the dragging incident on Tuesday.
South Africa's police chief Gen. Riah Phiyega said she shared "the extreme shock and outrage" over the video evidence of abuse of Macia by police officers and said his rights were "violated in the most extreme form."
Dressed in a formal police uniform, Phiyega said at a press conference that she stands by the integrity of her police force and insisted she will do her utmost to bring to justice those guilty of the death of Macia.
Hours later, Moses Dlamini of the police investigation unit said eight policemen from Daveyton were charged with murder.
The restraining and dragging of the man, a taxi driver who had allegedly parked in the wrong spot, was videotaped by members of a horrified crowd of onlookers who beseeched the police to stop their abuse and questioned their motives in dragging the taxi driver away with their police car, as he was struggling for his life.
He was found dead in prison a few hours later, suffering from head and upper abdomen injuries, including internal bleeding. The injuries could be from the dragging and he could also have been beaten later in police custody.
"I stood with him, I talked with him. He was a very good man," said Jafta Ndlovu, Chairman of the taxi association, said after the service in Daveyton.
Warning: Graphic video - Click on the player below to watch video posted by the Daily Sun showing police tie Mido Macia to the back of a van and then drive off.
The scandal is the latest to undermine confidence in South Africa's police force, which has expanded from 120,000 to nearly 200,000 over a decade.
"When dealing with 200,000 employees, it is never an easy environment," Phiyega said Friday. "There will always be incidents such as this."
Phiyega said the police force would also have its own internal investigation and said the Daveyton station commander was removed "so that the investigations can proceed uninhibited."