This was shameful and I'm sorry, mayor Dan Plato tells man dragged naked from shack

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato apologised to Bulelani Qholani on July 2 2020 after the Khayelitsha man was dragged naked from his home by city council law-enforcement officers.
Cape Town mayor Dan Plato apologised to Bulelani Qholani on July 2 2020 after the Khayelitsha man was dragged naked from his home by city council law-enforcement officers.
Image: GroundUp/Ashraf Hendricks

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato apologised on Thursday to the man dragged naked from his shack by city council law-enforcement officers.

Plato said Bulelani Qholani, a 28-year-old father of two, was subjected to “shameful circumstances” in Khayelitsha on Wednesday. “Having watched the video of law-enforcement officers responding to an illegal land invasion in Khayelitsha yesterday, I want to make it clear that this is not the type of conduct that we tolerate in this city,” Plato said in a statement.

Bulelani Qholani outside the Cape Town Civic Centre on July 2 2020.
Bulelani Qholani outside the Cape Town Civic Centre on July 2 2020.
Image: Newzroom Afrika

“This is why we have immediately suspended four officers while the matter is investigated without delay. As the mayor of this city, I want to acknowledge that Mr Qholani’s dignity was impaired and I am truly sorry for what he experienced.”

But Plato said the problem of illegal land invasions, accompanied by misinformation on social media, should not be forgotten.

“While evictions are not permitted under the lockdown, the courts, as well as the national minister of human settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, have made it clear that municipalities across SA have a duty to prevent illegal land invasions,” he said. “This particular area in Khayelitsha was illegally invaded during the first weeks of the national lockdown and the city responded to requests from the local community to remove the illegally erected structures. The city-owned land has been earmarked for the installation of services for the surrounding community.

“A local NGO and legal support structure took the city to court to prevent the removal of the illegal structures set up during a land invasion. The judge ruled that while the city had not been in breach of any regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he would allow the 49 structures that had already been erected to remain there temporarily during the lockdown.

“The judge also emphasised that the city has a responsibility to protect the land against invasion and is allowed to remove any new illegally erected structures with immediate effect. Since then, there have been near daily attempts to further invade the land.”

Plato said earlier this week he had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for an urgent meeting of all spheres of government “to address a sustainable and co-ordinated way forward as the limited resources allocated to municipalities combined with legislative constraints make the prevention of unlawful land occupation increasingly difficult”.

The non-government organisation Sonke Gender Justice said on Thursday it was disgusted that the city had “once again decided to carry out evictions amid a global pandemic and [during] winter”.

Apart from leaving families homeless, evictions highlighted the council's disregard for human rights and measures intended to contain the coronavirus, it said.

“We call on the City of Cape Town to desist from carrying out any further evictions and ensure that those who were evicted are provided shelter once again,” said the statement. “As the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Cape Town’s efforts should be focused on fighting the spread of the virus and not carrying out barbaric evictions which make the poor vulnerable.”

The organisation asked members of the public to stop sharing the video showing Qholani being dragged naked from his home.

“While we note the outrage that these images have caused, we need to note that human beings were being violated. Let us resist reviolating them any more than the City of Cape Town has already done,” it said.

-TimesLIVE


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