JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — They bound his hands to the rear of a van, and then sped off, dragging the taxi driver along the pavement as a crowd of onlookers shouted in dismay. The man was later found dead.
A gut-wrenching video of the scene is all the more disturbing because the men who abused the Mozambican immigrant were uniformed South African police officers and the van was a marked police vehicle.
The graphic scenes of Mido Macia, 27, struggling for his life shocked a nation long accustomed to reports of police violence.
"The visuals of the incident are horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner," said South African President Jacob Zuma.
The Daily Sun, a South African newspaper, posted video the footage Thursday and it was quickly picked up by other South African news outlets and carried on the Internet. It sparked immediate outrage about police behavior.
''They are there for safety, but we as a people fear them more," said Johannesburg resident Alfonso Adams. ''You don't know who to trust anymore."
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, a police watchdog agency, said the incident started about 7 p.m. Tuesday when the cab driver was allegedly obstructing traffic with his vehicle. Then Macia allegedly assaulted a constable and took his weapon before he was overpowered, it said.
Some in the crowd who watched the scene unfold in the Daveyton township east of Johannesburg shouted at police and warned it was being videotaped. The officers didn't seem concerned as they tied Macia to the back of their van, his hands behind his head. At least three officers participated.
Macia was found dead in a Daveyton police cell late Tuesday.
A murder investigation is under way, the police watchdog agency said Thursday.