JOHANNESBURG — One of nine South African police officers charged with murdering a taxi driver who was dragged from a police vehicle testified Friday that the man insulted him and grabbed a fellow officer's gun.
The killing of Mido Macia, a Mozambican who died in police custody on Feb. 26, shocked South Africans and viewers around the world after graphic video footage of him being tied to a vehicle by uniformed officers and dragged down a street was broadcast and posted online.
Protesters gathered outside the Benoni Magistrate's Court, east of Johannesburg, to demand that the officers not be granted bail. Eight officers were initially arrested, and South Africa media reported Friday that a ninth was also detained.
The bail hearing was adjourned to Monday after affidavits were read.
The lawyer for officer Thamsanqa Ncema, read his client's testimony, which maintained that 27-year-old Macia was blocking the road with his car, the South African Press Association reported.
"I asked him to move and he insulted me and told me I am a `useless cop,'" Ncema said in the affidavit.
He said Macia grabbed an officer's gun and pointed it at them before handing it back. Then an altercation started and Macia was arrested when police backup arrived, and taken to the police station in Daveyton, a township east of Johannesburg.
"I was caught by surprise to be told that the person had died, as he has never complained about any injuries," Ncema said in his affidavit, according to SAPA.
Another officer, Bongumusa Mdluli, said onlookers were throwing things at police on the scene, and that he told a police driver that there was "someone," an apparent reference to Macia, behind his vehicle.
The driver, Lungisa Ewababa, testified that he had begun to drive after a vehicle window was broken in the commotion on the street, and only realized Macia was being dragged after Mdluli told him. At that point, Ewababa testified that officers put Macia inside the vehicle and he then drove to the police station, SAPA reported.
The police who were charged did not provide any detail on how Macia was tied to the vehicle, or what happened to him at the station, where he was found dead in a cell hours later.
South Africa's police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, says Macia suffered head injuries and internal bleeding.