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updated: 3/1/2013 8:52 AM

S. Africa: Officers in dragged man case suspended

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Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa's police chief announced Friday that eight officers allegedly involved in the death of a man who was bound and then dragged by a police vehicle have been suspended and that the local police commander has been removed from his post.

Gen. Riah Phiyega said Friday that she shares "the extreme shock and outrage" over the abuse of the Mozambican immigrant by police officers and supports the investigation by the police watchdog agency. The rights of Mido Macia, a 27-year-old from neighboring Mozambique, were "violated in the most extreme form," she said. The detention and dragging of the man, a taxi driver who had parked in the wrong spot, was videotaped by members of a horrified crowd of onlookers.

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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. "There will always be incident such as this."

Late Tuesday, a crowd in the Daveyton township east of Johannesburg watched as police officers tried to put Macia into the back of their police vehicle, bound his hands to the rear of it with his body on the ground, then drove off.

A murder probe by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the police watchdog agency, is under way on the evidence that Macia suffered 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.

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."

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