Bulelani Qolani 'took off his clothes to taunt law enforcement', says City of Cape Town

Bulelani Qolani, who was dragged from his shack on Wednesday, naked, by City of Cape Town law enforcement officers. The officers have been suspended.
Bulelani Qolani, who was dragged from his shack on Wednesday, naked, by City of Cape Town law enforcement officers. The officers have been suspended.
James Stent, GroundUp
  • The City of Cape Town says it has obtained new footage which shows Bulelani Qolani seemingly taking his clothes off to "taunt" law enforcement.
  • It said independent investigators Fairbridges Attorneys have begun their probe into the incident and have obtained all video and photographic evidence. 
  • The City also maintained that in terms of a High Court order, it is allowed to remove new illegal structures on the land in question. 

The City of Cape Town says new footage obtained by law enforcement officials of Bulelani Qolani - the man who was allegedly evicted from his home while bathing - paints a different picture to the video that went viral.

In a statement on Monday, the City said independent investigators Fairbridges Attorneys kicked off their probe into the incident which took place during an Empolweni anti-land invasion operation.

In the video that went viral, a struggle between officers and Qolani is shown as Qolani tries to run away while naked.

It is alleged he was taking a bath before officers started to demolish his shack.

READ | 'I was in my room washing. Then they threw me outside' - Bulelani Qolani describes how he was dragged naked from his shack

However, the City claims they are in possession of footage taken by the officials as evidence which shows that Qolani was not bathing as previously claimed.

Footage

"This includes footage showing Mr Qolani clothed and standing outside during the operation to remove five illegal structures on Wednesday, 1 July 2020," the City said.

"Mr Qolani looks directly into the camera, as Law Enforcement officials are heard dismantling illegal structures. This indicates Mr Qolani was not bathing as claimed.

"Footage further shows Mr Qolani walking out of a structure unclothed. He does this without prompting, and without any Law Enforcement official near him."

According to the City, the footage shows Qolani pacing up and down outside his shack, naked, "apparently as a taunt".

ALSO READ | SAHRC concerned about City of Cape Town's 'reluctance' to help with Qolani investigation

According to Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith law enforcement took the video as evidence.

"The City really does not tolerate the loss of dignity that occurred. However, footage shows Mr Qolani come out of the structure naked without any Law Enforcement official near him. He does it independently, holding a piece of paper in his hand," Smith said.

High Court order

The City also maintained that they are allowed to remove new illegal structures on this specific patch of land in question in terms of a High Court order. 

"This is besides 49 structures which the court allowed to remain on the land in Empolweni temporarily until the matter is heard in full. Mr Qolani's name is not on the court's list of permitted structures," it added.

Malusi Booi, Mayco member for human settlements, maintained that no eviction had been conducted on the site, "only anti-land invasion operations".

Lawyers for Qolani told News24 they would approach their client before commenting.

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