There was no evidence that taxi driver Mido Macia was involved crash in which five children died, the Benoni Magistrate’s Court heard on Tuesday (12/03/2013).
The State investigated, but found "nothing of such”, prosecutor December Mthimunye said.
"A lot has been said about Mr Macia.... He is now turning in his grave.” Mthimunye was responding to presentations by the lawyers of nine policemen accused of killing Macia.
The submission about the crash was made on Monday by defence lawyer Lokhimbar Dikatope, who accused the Benoni Taxi Association of helping "their member [Macia] to evade justice”.
On Tuesday, Mthimunye said the policemen tried to arrest Macia for a traffic offence on February 26. Macia was filmed being tied to the back of a police van and dragged along a street in Daveyton on February 26. He was found dead in the police station’s holding cells several hours later.
The accused are: Thamsanqa Ncema, 35, Linda Sololo, 56, Meshack Malele, 45, Motome Walter Ramatlou, 37, Percy Mnisi, 26, Bongumusa Mdluli, 25, Sipho Ngobeni, 30, Lungisa Ewababa, 31, and Bongani Kolisi, 27.
Defence counsel Sam Leso said media reports and the footage of Macia being dragged did not present an accurate account of events.
He claimed Macia resisted arrest and began fighting with two of the accused policemen.
"Three more [policemen] came, but he remained obstinate. Because of his violence, three more [policemen] came,” Leso said.
"He kept on resisting and fighting.” He submitted Ramatlou tried to lift Macia, to prevent him from being injured while being dragged by the van.
Leso argued the accused should be granted bail because prisons were overcrowded, and to protect the rights of their children. He said the policemen were breadwinners for their families and provided protection for their children.
Leso and defence lawyer Elias Tshole both mentioned the granting of bail to paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, accused of killing his girlfriend, in a case which had drawn significant public and media attention.
However, magistrate Sam Makamu said the Pistorius matter had nothing to do with the case at hand.
Leso told the court Sololo had hypertension and that, initially, his condition "seriously deteriorated” while in custody.
"Keeping him in custody might be dangerous to his health.” Leso criticised the Benoni Taxi Association for not helping the police.
Tshole said one of the accused, the driver of the van used to drag Macia, had not seen him in the rear-view mirrors.
"If someone is underneath [the vehicle] there is no way you will see them [in the mirrors].” Another of the accused saw Macia being dragged and tried to intervene. In an affidavit, this man said: ”I ran to try alert the person driving that bakkie that there was someone dragging [behind it].” Tshole argued this was consistent with the accused trying to save a life.
"Were they all dragging the deceased? Clearly, no”.
He said the circumstances would not support allegations that the policemen acted in common purpose, as the rules of common purpose did not pertain to this matter.
"If this court was sitting as a trial court today, they would be acquitted,” he said.
The defence team argued the accused would not evade trial, intimidate witnesses or interfere with evidence if they were granted bail. - Sapa