Disciplinary proceedings for law enforcement officers who dragged Bulelani Qolani naked from shack

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Bulelani Qolani.
Bulelani Qolani.
James Stent, GroundUp
  • Four law enforcement officers will face disciplinary proceedings for their part in removing a naked man from his shack.
  • The incident, which took place during an anti-land invasion operation in Khayelitsha, was caught on camera and widely circulated.
  • The City of Cape Town has since claimed Bulelani Qolani removed his clothes to taunt officers.

Four City of Cape Town law enforcement officers have been referred for disciplinary proceedings after being caught on camera roughly removing a naked man from an informal structure during an anti-land invasion operation in Khayelitsha.

A video went viral which shows the naked man being dragged from his shack and wrestled to the ground by officers.

After the incident, the City said it had obtained footage which showed that the man, Bulelani Qolani, had removed his clothes to "taunt officers".

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

In a statement on Sunday, mayor Dan Plato says: "During an anti-land invasion operation in Khayelitsha on 1 July 2020, an altercation ensued involving law enforcement officials after a member of the public deliberately disrobed.

"This was an apparent attempt to thwart the operation, aimed at protecting land on the direct pathway of a water pipeline construction project."

The City has since referred the four law enforcement officials for disciplinary proceedings, which will be independently chaired and initiated.

This action is in line with the recommendation of an independent investigation, Plato says.

"All City employees are bound by the Municipal Code of Conduct for staff. Independent disciplinary proceedings will ensure fair and impartial consideration of the matter."

Plato adds that the City is aware of an affidavit, submitted to the Western Cape High Court by Qolani, in which he "confirms that he went into a structure, undressed, and emerged naked without prompting, exposing himself to onlookers while the operation to dismantle illegal structures was taking place".

WATCH | Bulelani Qolani seeks justice, neighbours team up to rebuild his shack after dragging

In the statement, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith adds: "Mr Qolani claims to have then immediately re-entered the structure in order to allegedly bathe. Video filmed by law enforcement during the operation further depicts Mr Qolani emerging from a structure naked and unprompted. This happened prior to the altercation with officials, which is the subject of an independent disciplinary process."

Smith says the "deliberate disrobing" is a tactic that officials have witnessed before and have now developed a new strategy for coping with it.

Officers will now "[cover] the disrobed person with a blanket" before escorting them from the structure.

The City has also stated that aerial photographs indicate Qolani had not taken occupation on 16 March as initially claimed, and that his structure had first been noted on the day of the anti-land invasion operation.

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

Near daily anti-land invasion operations are conducted to prevent further invasion of the site, which is on the direct pathway of a R162 million water pipeline from Faure to Khayelitsha, which is currently under construction.

The City has a court order permitting the removal of illegally-erected structures, which are placing this major infrastructure project in jeopardy.

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