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'Taxi drivers treated like outcasts'

Taxi drivers used Mido Macia's memorial service to vent their anger against government.

Graça Michel speaks to some of Mido Macia's friends and family members during his memorial service on 6 March 2013. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Emotions ran high at Mido Macia's memorial on Wednesday with officers being ordered to leave the service, the taxi association condemning government and ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe promising to investigate police violence as a matter of urgency.

The 27-year-old Mozambican taxi driver was handcuffed to a police van in Daveyton last week and dragged through the streets of the East Rand suburb.

Macia later died in police custody.

Eight officers have been arrested for his murder.

Hundreds of mourners vented their anger at police by heckling the officers who entered the stadium and jeering Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko.

National Taxi Alliance Chairperson Francis Masitsa said since the dawn of democracy in South Africa, taxi drivers have been made to feel like outcasts.

"That attitude from government must change going forward."

Former president Nelson Mandela's wife Graça Machel said the police's role in Macia's death showed that South Africans are struggling to deal with the legacy of apartheid.

She said the violent actions of the police cannot continue.

XENOPHOBIC LINKS?

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the growing trend of police violence against the public would be addressed as a matter of urgency.

He made the comments while addressing mourners.

"It is xenophobic and cruel. There is a rising trend in police which should be dealt with."

Mantashe said he believed Macia's nationality might have played a role in his murder.

"It is xenophobic because it involves a Mozambican."

The secretary general said something should be done about the violent nature of South Africans.

"We are beginning to see every strike and protest translating into destruction. We are an angry nation and something must be done."

POLICE CRITICISM

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has come under severe criticism in recent years.

The service has come under fire following the scandal surrounding the investigating officer in the Oscar Pistorius case and the rape of a woman at a Pretoria police station.

In 2011, SAPS was criticised following murder of Andries Tatane during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg.

In August 2012, 34 Marikana miners were gunned down during a confrontation with police at the North West mining town.

Deputy Gauteng Police Commissioner Nobesuthu Masiye warned officers who break the law that they would not get away with it.

She made the comments during National Police Day celebrations at the Johannesburg Stadium in Soweto.

Masiye said it had been a difficult time for police, but said the force would not tolerate any bad apples.

Earlier, Mazibuko praised the province's men and women in blue for their hard work.

In Cape Town, Western Cape Police Commissioner Arno Lamoer said despite trying times in the service, his officers were determined to fight crime.

They marked the day at the Phillipi Stadium.

The event recognises the role and daily sacrifices made by officers and honours those who died in the line of duty.

Lamoer said SAPS members are under attack.

"We need to honour our members and our officials that are doing excellent work during these trying times. The police are under siege and these officers and clerks are doing sterling work."