City of Cape Town suspends officers who dragged naked man from shack

The City of Cape Town suspended four officers after a naked man, Bulelani Qolani, was dragged from his shack during a demolition, 1 July 2020. Photo: from a video by Bonga Zamisa

In a late-night tweet, the party’s interim leader John Steenhuisen commended the ‘swift action’.

The City of Cape Town has suspended four metro police officers who were caught on camera manhandling a naked man in Khayelitsha.

The video went viral on Wednesday after the naked man, who was in the process of bathing, was seen being dragged from his shack and wrestled to the ground by metro police officers.

The man finally escaped from officers and dashed back to his shack, which was partially torn down.

In a statement issued by the City on Wednesday night, it claimed it was in the process of suspending and applying disciplinary procedures against four officers.

Now at Empolweni a men is evicted out of his home whilst he was bathing and naked.Guy consented to video being posted..

Posted by Bonga Zamisa on Wednesday, 1 July 2020

“The suspension also ensures that staff are not targeted while on duty. We are saddened by the conduct depicted on the video footage, and we do not condone any forceful and dehumanising conduct by our staff members.

“The City takes these allegations very seriously, and while our staff are subjected to very challenging circumstances while carrying out anti-land invasion operations, which are to protect land earmarked for housing opportunities and other services (sic).

“We will not condone violence of any nature by law enforcement staff. I have asked for the facts to be gathered as a matter of urgency and that the investigation is concluded without delay,” said the City’s executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman.

Bosman claimed the land in question belongs to the City and that the City has conducted various operations to prevent illegal land occupation.

“After the removal of illegal structures, new attempts are made to invade again on a daily basis. There is an interdict in place as well as a recent court order which allows only 49 households to temporarily remain on the land until after the lockdown,” Bosman said.

“The City must also maintain this recent court order, which the community is aware of.”

Meanwhile, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said she was appalled by the victimisation and abuse of residents of Empolweni in Khayelitsha by the metro police, led by City councillors.

“The barbaric eviction of a resident, humiliated as he fought for his basic right to shelter, is unconscionable,” said Sisulu.

She said when the City first attempted to evict residents, she intervened and supported the residents’ court process challenging their eviction.

“Upon their court victory, the City was instructed to return all material of the residents that they had confiscated and the residents were given legal authority to remain in Empolweni,” Sisulu said.

Sisulu has instructed the Housing Development Agency to start the process of building permanent structures for the 49 families who were given legal authority by the court to remain in Empolweni.

“All evictions need a court order and no court would have granted an eviction order against explicit lockdown regulations. The City must have therefore evicted people without authority or lied to the court,” Sisulu said.

The DA, which governs the Western Cape, has welcomed the action taken by the City.

In a late-night tweet, the party’s interim leader John Steenhuisen commended the “swift action”.

“We remain a democratic state and not a military state. We must promote the law and Bill of Rights at all times, rejecting brutality,” Steenhuisen said.

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