Lindiwe Sisulu demands answers on eviction of naked man in Khayelitsha

02 July 2020 - 08:37 By TimesLIVE
Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

Minister of human settlements, water and sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu has condemned the “distasteful” eviction of a man seen on video footage being dragged naked out of his shack.

The incident took place in Thembeni informal settlement in Cape Town.

“While we are yet to be appraised of the exact details of what led to what we have seen on various media platforms, we wish to condemn with the strongest terms an act which sought to degrade an individual like what we have witnessed. The act is inhumane and has no place in our democratic SA,” said Sisulu.

The minister's office said she has on several occasions warned people planning to or who have already invaded properties to desist from such unlawful acts. Incidents of land invasions have been a regular occurrence in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

“However, no matter the circumstances, there is no reason for such behaviour from the people tasked with enforcing the law.

“We are calling on the Western Cape government to urgently get to the bottom of the incident and to hold accountable those implicated for their deplorable actions,” said Sisulu.

The City of Cape Town said on Wednesday evening it was “in the process of suspending” four law enforcement officials involved in the eviction.

In the video, shared on Wednesday by social justice activists, members of the city's anti-land invasion unit are seen removing the naked man from his shack and taking him outside. There is a scuffle as the man tries to make his way back into his shack, with four or five officials blocking his path and some pushing him to the ground.

As he tries to get back into the shack, other members of the team dismantle the front portion of the shack, which consists of the door and a window. The members continue to dismantle the shack while the man sits on the bed.

“We are saddened by the conduct depicted on the video footage and we do not condone any forceful and dehumanising conduct,” said the city.

“The actions of officers involved in this matter are being investigated with urgency, including other footage which the city has. Once the investigation has been completed, the appropriate action will be taken,” it said.

“We cannot allow law enforcement officials to act as a gang against citizens of our country,” said the chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

She described the actions of the law enforcement officers as appalling and unwarranted and requested the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to investigate and hold any officers or senior management involved in the incident accountable.

Joemat-Pettersson said she understood the need to enforce bylaws but it needed to be done within the ambit of the law.

“The ... officers did not allow the man to get dressed at all and seemed intent on publicly humiliating him. That is not in their job description and we want to encourage the victim to lay a charge against the city law enforcement officers and their managers. We cannot allow law enforcement officials to act as a gang against citizens of our country.”