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Veil of secrecy on accused cops

THE eight Daveyton, East Rand, policemen accused of killing taxi driver Mido Macia will be kept at a secret location for their safety.

The officers are charged with murder after cellphone video footage surfaced on Thursday showing the police dragging Macia, 27, through the streets handcuffed to the back of a police vehicle.

Macia later died in a police cell, reportedly after being assaulted.

One of their defence attorneys, Pat Sithole, yesterday pleaded with the Benoni Magistrate's Court not to remand the officers to Boksburg or Modderbee Prison because "they are officers who have made numerous arrests and many of the arrested are held (at the prison facilities)".

He asked that the court not reveal where the officers were being detained.

Magistrate Samuel Makamu conducted yesterday's proceedings in the absence of the accused officers, fearing that either the media would publish their photographs or that people in the public gallery would take cellphone pictures that could be distributed widely before an identification parade is held.

The matter was postponed to allow for the identification parade, which is expected to take place on Thursday.

A bail application is expected to be heard on Friday.

The courtroom was packed with representatives of political parties and from the Mozambique diaspora, Benoni and national taxi association bosses, community leaders and Macia's family members.

"We wanted to see who these animals are. Why are they being hidden," complained Badumizile Ngwenya outside court. She had accompanied Macia's father Joseph. The deceased was renting accommodation on her premises.

"We are not okay. This man is here to fetch his son's body but we are leaving without answers," she said.

Joseph Macia spoke in a very soft voice and was inaudible among at least 150 protesters outside the court. - moengk@sowetan.co.za

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