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From a humiliating eviction to the pursuit of justice - a timeline of Khayelitsha's Bulelani Qholani

An emotional Bulelani Qholani asked police minister Bheki Cele for protection on July 4 2020.
An emotional Bulelani Qholani asked police minister Bheki Cele for protection on July 4 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

Bulelani Qholani, the 28-year-old man from Khayelitsha in the Western Cape who was dragged naked from his home last week, is determined to see justice done.

Here is a timeline of how it all unfolded:

Eviction and city's response — July 1 

A video shared by National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) president Irvin Jim last week showed a naked man being manhandled by law-enforcement officers during evictions in Khayelitsha. The man attempted to fight off officers to gain entry into the shack. He told SowetanLIVE he wanted to cover up during the scuffle. 

He eventually gained entry into the shack as the structure was dismantled before he could cover up.

Cape Town officials later issued a public statement condemning the conduct of its officers. It said it was considering the suspension of the four officers and that an internal investigation had been established.

Appeal to the president -  July 2

Last Thursday, Qholani appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa and police minister Bheki Cele to "help him reclaim his dignity" following the humiliating incident. He said he could not afford to see a doctor for injuries he sustained during the scuffle, which allegedly include being kicked in his genitals and on his spinal cord.

He said his basic human rights were violated.

“I asked them [the officers] about my children's rights, and they said the were sent by the city and there would be no discussion about the evictions. I asked if they had a court order or permit allowing them to carry out the evictions. I asked them where I should go to."

SAHRC speaks- July 2

Chris Nissen of the SA Human Rights Commission said the city of Cape Town was not supposed to carry out evictions during the lockdown, even if it did secure an eviction order.

He said the city violated the Disaster Management Act.

Nissen said the commission would go to the equality court to secure justice for Qholani, and encouraged him to lay a criminal charge.

Qholani opens a case against the city - July 3

On Friday, the 28-year-old opened a case against the city of Cape Town at the Harare police station, saying only justice would restore his dignity. This after the suspension of four officers who were involved in the eviction on Thursday.

Legal Resources Centre attorney Lelethu Mgedezi said last week's incident was not the first as evictions similar to this one happened in that community. He said he would help Qholani with the legal processes pertaining to his case.

Independent investigation - July 3

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato claimed that Qholani had "staged" the naked eviction.

He claimed Qholani was fully clothed before the illegal structures were dismantled, and that he had been following the law-enforcement officers. He said Qholani undressed a few moments before the recorded incident took place. He said the city had a video confirming this.

He also said Qholani did not live in the shack from which he was evicted. 

Plato said the city's independent internal investigation would help unravel the truth about what happened.

Cele pays Qholani a visit -  July 4

The police minister visited Qholani, saying he was sent by Ramaphosa following his plea for justice and restoration of his dignity.

He said there was criminality and was critical of the law-enforcement unit, which has no oversight body. He said this causes complications because victims of abuse do not know where to report incidents.

Cele dismissed the conduct of the officers and Plato's claim that Qholani had staged the incident.

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