WATCH | Man dragged naked from shack makes appeal for 'dignity' to Cyril Ramaphosa

02 July 2020 - 11:02 By Naledi Shange
Residents protest on Thursday, July 2 2020 againt "inhuman treatment" by law-enforcement officers in Cape Town.
Residents protest on Thursday, July 2 2020 againt "inhuman treatment" by law-enforcement officers in Cape Town.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

The man who was dragged naked from his Cape Town shack on Wednesday has appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to help him reclaim his dignity.

Speaking to Newzroom Africa's Athi Mthongana on Thursday, 28-year-old Bulelani Qholani said the actions of Cape Town law-enforcement officers had robbed him of his dignity and of his rights as a human being.

He said he wanted Ramaphosa and police minister Bheki Cele to ensure justice in the matter so that he could recover from the humiliation of appearing naked not only in front of his Khayelitsha neighbours but on a video that was widely shared.

Speaking outside the City of Cape Town offices, Qholani described the injuries he sustained.

“Yesterday when we were fighting, they kicked me in my genitals, they also kicked me on my spinal cord and shoved me onto my bed as they were trying to force me out of the house," he said.

“I asked them about what happens to my children’s rights. They replied and said they had been sent there by the City of Cape Town and would hold no discussions about it. They said there was nothing to talk about or communicate.

"I asked them where the court order and permit was for them to come and demolish my home. I asked them where I was supposed to go. I was crying."

Qholani felt it would be pointless to open a case against the city council. “Even if we were to open a case against them, it would not go anywhere because we are poor, black people," he said.

"We can’t afford to pay lawyers and they have strong paid lawyers that we cannot go up against. That is why I would like to say to President Cyril Ramaphosa and police minister Bheki Cele, they should come up with a solution and arrest officials of the City of Cape Town.”

Cape Town's safety and security director, Richard Bosman, said four officials involved in Qholani's eviction had been suspended pending an investigation.

In the video, members of the city's anti-land invasion unit are seen removing Qholani — who said on Thursday he had been preparing food for his two children and getting ready to bathe — from his shack.

There is a scuffle as he tries to make his way back into his home, with four or five officials blocking his path and some pushing him to the ground. As he tries to get into the shack, other members of the team begin to dismantle it.

Interacting with Cape Town journalists on a WhatsApp group on Thursday, JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the city council will “act swiftly against staff when incidents like this happen”.

He added: “This stands in sharp contrast to the atrocious Independent Police Investigative Directorate stats relating to SAPS.

“Staff have conflict-resolution training as part of their basic training as well. But I've heard the staff's version of what happened and will wait for all the facts to be on the table before I am able to form my final opinion.

“Cape Town has an excellent track record on maintaining discipline. There are lapses, even mad ones like yesterday. But we acted quickly.”