Manner in which naked man removed 'shameful', but City has duty to stop land occupation - CT mayor

  • Cape Town mayor Dan Plato admits the actions of four law enforcement officials caught on camera manhandling a naked man in Khayelitsha were shameful.
  • Plato has, however, said municipalities across South Africa have a duty to prevent illegal land occupation.
  • Since 2018, 357 hectares of private and public land had been invaded in Cape Town, he said.

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has admitted the actions of four law enforcement officials caught on camera manhandling a naked man in Khayelitsha were shameful.

"Having watched the video of law enforcement officers responding to an illegal land invasion in Khayelitsha yesterday, and the shameful circumstances that Mr Bulelani Qolani was subjected to, I want to make it clear that this is not the type of conduct that we tolerate in this City," Plato said.

The video went viral on Wednesday after the naked man, Bulelani Qolani, who was in the process of bathing, was seen being dragged from his shack and wrestled to the ground by officers.

READ | City of Cape Town to suspend officers who dragged naked man from bath

Plato said while the investigation into the conduct of the law enforcement officers and the circumstances surrounding the situation was ongoing, he acknowledged Qolani's dignity was impaired.

The four officers involved have been suspended. 

I am truly sorry for what he experienced.
Dan Plato

But he also moved to dispel, what he calls, misinformation on social media.

"While evictions are not permitted under the lockdown, the courts, as well as the national Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu have made it clear that municipalities across South Africa have a duty to prevent illegal land invasions.

"This particular area in Khayelitsha was illegally invaded during the first weeks of the national lockdown and the City responded to requests from the local community to remove the illegally erected structures. The city-owned land has been earmarked for the installation of services for the surrounding community," Plato said.

WATCH | Naked man manhandled by law enforcement as shack is torn down

According to Plato, a local NGO and legal support structure took the City to court to prevent the removal of the illegal structures set up during a land occupation.

The Western Cape High Court ruled that while the City had not been in breach of any regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 49 structures that had already been erected would be allowed to remain there temporarily during the lockdown.

Read Plato's full statement here.

"Since then, there have been near daily attempts to further invade the land. Efforts to prevent illegal land invasions across South Africa require an increasing amount of resources from local municipalities and provinces. From 2018 to date, 357 hectares of private and public land has been invaded in Cape Town alone," Plato said.

He however said officers have a responsibility to conduct themselves with professionalism, and to always respect residents, regardless of any provocation or resistance to cooperate.

Plato also said he wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting national government's help in dealing with land occupations.

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