They bound his hands to the rear of a van, and then sped off, dragging the slender 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 the victim struggling for his life shocked a nation long accustomed to reports of police violence.
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.
“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.”