PRETORIA (Reuters) - A South African court on Wednesday (Nov 11) sentenced eight former police officers to 15 years' jail each for killing a Mozambican taxi driver by dragging him handcuffed to a police truck and assaulting him in custody.
The tormenting of Mr Mido Macia, caught on video and broadcast around the world, further tarnished the reputation of the police in South Africa, where about 1,000 people a year die in custody or as result of police action.
Mr Macia died from head injuries and internal bleeding caused by being assaulted and dragged behind the vehicle through Johannesburg streets and further attacks in a holding cell.
Judge Bert Bam said the accused policemen, aged between 25 and 56, showed no remorse for their crime and did not deserve a more lenient verdict, such as a suspended sentence.
"The continuous conduct of the accused concerning the injuries on the deceased was barbaric and totally inexplicable," Judge Bam said in his ruling. "What made their conduct more reprehensible was their cowardly attack in the cell on a defenceless and already seriously injured man."
Mr Benny Ndaba, a lawyer for the police officers, said they would appeal their murder conviction.
The video of the incident, which rekindled images of apartheid era police brutality, was filmed by an onlooker and showed minibus taxi driver Macia scuffling with police after he illegally parked his vehicle.
The victim was then tied to the back of a police van and dragged in full view of scores of witnesses in the east Johannesburg area of Daveyton.
There has been a series of incidents of South African police using inordinate force against civilians in recent years, the worst being the 2012 "Marikana massacre" where 34 striking mine workers were gunned down by police.