'Leadership not to blame for taxi driver dragging'

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has denied there are any problems in the Saps’ leadership.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has denied there are any problems in the force’s leadership. Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega on Friday denied there were any problems in the police service's leadership.

She said the suspension and subsequent arrest of eight Daveyton officers yesterday was an isolated case.

Taxi driver and Mozambican national Mido Macia was tied to the back of a police van on Tuesday and dragged through the streets, before allegedly being beaten to death at the local police station.

Video footage of the incident went viral both locally and across the world.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating the matter and yesterday said the officers would appear in court on Monday, each facing a charge of murder.

Phiyega has had a difficult nine months.

She has been called in to handle the Marikana shootings in August last year, the scandal around the former investigating officer in the Oscar Pistorius case in February, and now a video showing yet another alleged incident of police brutality.

But she maintains South Africans have not lost faith in the police, and that there is no breakdown in senior management.

"I'm being asked whether I'm embarrassed. I have said to you that indeed it was with extreme shock, and we are equally outraged by what has happened."

Phiyega is the third political appointment to the position of national commissioner since the year 2000, with both her predecessors leaving the force in disgrace.

She has asked the nation to only judge her after a year at the helm of the police service and has a little over three months until that date arrives.

But opposition parties have said Phiyega must present a concrete plan on how she plans to stop police brutality and reverse fears the organisation is regressing back to a ruthless military-style police force as seen under apartheid.

Phiyega has, however, argued the actions of a handful of officers are not representative of how others in the force conduct themselves on a daily basis.

She said they were improving training, modernising the police service, and dealing decisively with lapses in discipline.

"What was in the video is not how Saps, in a democratic South Africa, goes about its work."

She said police watchdog Ipid would receive any assistance it needed for its investigation into the taxi driver incident, while the internal police probe will be fast-tracked.