Naked eviction: Cape Town mayor claims 'to some extent it was a staged act'

  • Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato says City footage shows that Bulelani Qolani was clothed "moments" before his eviction.
  • However, he maintains he doesn't condone that the man was dragged out of the shack naked.
  • Four law enforcement officers were suspended amid a public outcry and many people are accusing the City of being anti-poor.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato claims that a man, who was evicted from his shack while naked and wrestled to the ground, removed his clothes as a tactic to make the City of Cape Town look bad.

Plato, who said on Thursday morning that the dignity of the man, Bulelani Qolani, was impaired and that he was "truly sorry for what he experienced", told eNCA on Thursday night that the Khayelitsha dad would "have to come clean with regard to his role, if it was deliberate or not".

Plato said he had viewed footage and images of the incident, which were taken by City officials who make their own recordings when they "move" onto a site.

He claimed the footage showed that Qolani was clothed "moments" before he was evicted, when he stood at a shack the officers went to previously.

"I have the pictures in front of me. He had clothes on," Plato said.

He said the City's preliminary investigation, from its own videos, gave a "completely different account of what precisely happened there, despite the latter part of the video footage".

News24 has requested access to the video clips and images.

Plato alleged that it was "common" during the removal of illegal structures that "people stand in front of the structure naked".

City accused of being anti-poor

"Our officers act under the very most difficult of circumstances and … have to make split [second] decisions. But I think what prompted the officers to act in that manner [is that] they did pick up the man as the person that was roaming around on the site with his clothes on, and eventually he was naked."

However, Plato maintained that he didn't "condone the fact that the man was dragged out naked".

In a video of the incident, law enforcement officials could be seen manhandling and tussling with Qolani, before he managed to go back inside the shack, which was then torn down while he was in it.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato
Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato

The City, which owns the land on which the shack was built, has conducted various operations to prevent illegal land occupations, it said.

Four law enforcement officers were suspended amid a public outcry following Wednesday's incident and many people have accused the City of being anti-poor.

But in the interview, Plato denied that what happened on Wednesday was a "common act against poor people".

"I am of the opinion that to some extent it was a staged act. I think it was to some extent deliberately done to put the City of Cape Town in a very bad light," he said.

Plato said his "taking is that that structure was not his structure".

 - Compiled by Tammy Petersen

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