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S.African cops back in court after man dragged, killed

Friends, family and supporters of Mido Macia who died in S.African police custody hold a memorial service March 6, 2013
Friends, family and supporters of Mido Macia, a Mozambican man who died in custody after being dragged behind a South African police van, hold a memorial service in Daveyton, March 6, 2013. Eight South African policemen charged with murdering the Mozambic

Nine South African policemen appeared in court Friday accused of dragging a Mozambican immigrant behind their police van and then brutally beating him to death.

They are charged with killing Mido Macia, a 27-year-old Mozambican taxi driver who died in police custody on February 26, after parking his taxi on the wrong side of the road.

Bystanders filmed Macia being manhandled, handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged hundreds of metres to the Daveyton police station, east of Johannesburg.

Just over two hours later he was found dead in his cell.

Footage of the incident spread quickly online and sent shock waves throughout the country, shining a spotlight yet again on the conduct of South Africa's much maligned police force.

The court was told Friday that Macia suffered extensive injuries, culminating in hypoxia -- a lack of oxygen supply to the body -- causing his death.

Reproduction of a picture made on March 1, 2013, showing taxi driver, Mido Macia, who was killed by South African Police
Reproduction made on March 1, 2013, of a picture showing Mido Macia, taxi driver, who was dragged to death by South African Police in Daveyton, and his sister Melida Macia.

According to a report by pathologist Reggie Perumal, Macia had extensive abrasions on his face, limbs and body, deep cuts on his forearms and wrists and "almost full thickness lacerations of the head."

He also had bruised ribs, back, left and right testes, lips and bite marks on his tongue as well as bleeding and water on the brain.

The nine huddled together on the accused's bench, some dressed in suits, others in casual clothes.

Aged between 25 and 57, some chewed gum, looked down while others occasionally shot a furtive smile.

The state has opposed bail.

Eight officers had been arrested in connection with the incident, which shocked South Africa and the world, and a constable who was on duty that day has since turned himself in.

"I brought him to the police station today," his advocate, Sam Leso, told AFP.

A magistrate had postponed the hearing Monday of the men arrested last week so that state witnesses could confirm the identities of the accused.

On Wednesday around 1,000 people attended a memorial for Macia at the sports stadium in Daveyton. He is due to be buried outside the Mozambican capital Maputo on Saturday.