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

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

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 told them I was not going anywhere and I offered them my ID to scan and check whether I owned property. I don’t have a house. My ID even tore during that.

“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.

“Because I was powerless, they pepper-sprayed me and they beat me. I haven’t been to the doctor yet but I can feel the pain on my body.

“During this lockdown they were able to barge into my home but now, we as the residents are at the City of Cape Town offices… we were here even yesterday and we have just been sitting here.

"They will say it’s lockdown period but even during this lockdown they were able to deploy their people to demolish our homes. When we as residents come to try and engage them, they do not entertain us. It’s because we are black and poor.”

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.”

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