S.Africa probes death of man dragged behind police van

Updated 28 February 2013
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S.Africa probes death of man dragged behind police van

DAVEYTON, South Africa: South Africa’s police watchdog is investigating the death in custody of a Mozambican taxi driver who was filmed being dragged behind a police vehicle, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Video footage taken by a bystander shows 27-year-old Mido Macia handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged through the streets, in front of a large crowd of shocked bystanders.


Half a dozen uniformed and police officers clad in stab vests — with at least one brandishing an unholstered pistol — can be seen circling the scene.
Local media reported that police beat up the taxi driver in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, accusing him of parking his vehicle incorrectly.
He was later taken into custody, where he died.
“We are investigating an incident involving the death of man, allegedly at the hands of the police. We are shocked by the footage which has been released,” said Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini.
“The circumstances surrounding his death are still allegations... let’s find out what really happened,” he said.
He said there were reports the man had tried to disarm a police officer before the attack.
The beating allegedly continued inside the police holding cells before his death.
Police commissioner Riah Phiyega expressed “deep concern” about the incident.
“The matter is viewed by the National Commissioner in a very serious light and it is strongly condemned,” a statement said.
The incident, which is thought to have taken place on Tuesday, has caused outrage in South Africa.
It is just the latest in a series of crises to hit the beleaguered police service, which was pilloried for the shooting dead of 34 miners on one August day and for its handling of the Oscar Pistorius case.
“This appalling incident involving excessive force is the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate received 720 new cases for investigation of suspicious deaths in custody or in other policing contexts from April 2011 to March 2012 according to Amnesty.
The opposition Democratic Alliance party called for a full investigation and for the officers involved to be suspended.
“The fact that it was police who were the vigilantes in this case shows that we cannot trust the (South African Police Service) to uphold the law,” said provincial parliamentarian Kate Lorimer.
“The fact that the crowd watched and did nothing to help, some even cheering, is a sad indictment of the state of our society.”
Dlamini, of the police watchdog, said only the police department had the power to suspend the police officers involved in the incident.
“We can only investigate and recommend suspension, we have no power to say that they should be removed from their jobs,” he said.
The police department did not confirm if the officers had been suspended.


Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

Updated 8 min 16 sec ago
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Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

  • While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January
  • The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history

LONDON: People who lost family and friends in the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people in London last year, will pay tribute to their loved ones at the start of hearings at a public inquiry into the causes of the disaster.
Only a charred, gutted ruin remains of Grenfell Tower, a 24-story social housing block in a deprived pocket of the rich west London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, since it was engulfed by flames in the middle of the night of June 14, 2017.
The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history since it was built in the 1970s.
But before it delves into the details of what happened, the inquiry wants to give those bereaved by the disaster an opportunity to pay tribute to those they lost by talking about them publicly, or by showing photos or videos if they wish.
These commemoration hearings are expected to last nine days, although the schedule is uncertain as the inquiry has set no time limit for the tributes. They are expected to last between two minutes and over an hour.
The oral hearings into the circumstances of the fire will start later, on June 4.
The first commemoration will be of baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital shortly after his heavily pregnant mother Andreia, who lived on the 21st floor, escaped from the fire. Andreia survived after she was put in an induced coma and treated for cyanide poisoning.
While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January, having never left hospital since she escaped from the fire.
The Grenfell Tower fire shocked Britain and led to an outpouring of angst over whether poor quality social housing and neglect by the authorities of a deprived, ethnically diverse community had played a part in the tragedy.
Separately from the public inquiry, the police are conducting an investigation into the fire which could result in criminal charges against organizations involved in the construction, maintenance or refurbishment of the tower, or against individuals.