Eight South African police officers have been charged with murder for the death of a taxi driver tied to the back of a police vehicle and dragged down a street.
Video of the incident has become a worldwide symbol of police brutality in South Africa.
Friends and relatives of Mido Macia yesterday gathered around a simple wooden table in the poor township of Daveyton to mourn the 27-year-old from Mozambique 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”.
The local police commander has been removed from his post following the incident.
The detention and dragging of the man, who had parked in the wrong spot, was videoed by members of a horrified crowd of onlookers.
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,” Gen Phiyega said. “There will always be incident such as this.”
Late on Tuesday, a crowd in the Daveyton township east of Johannesburg watched as police officers tried to put Mr Macia into the back of their vehicle, bound his hands to the rear of it with his body on the ground, then drove off.
The murder inquiry by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the police watchdog agency, is under way on evidence that Mr 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.
Gen Phiyega said the police force would also carry out its own internal investigation and said the Daveyton station commander was removed “so that the investigations can proceed uninhibited”.