The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has rejected Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato’s announcement that an independent investigation will be done into the incident in which a naked Bulelani Qhalani was evicted from his shack on City land.
Images of the incident have been circulating on social media. Plato, other City officials and officials from the Human Rights Commission have appeared before the Cooperative Governance Committee.
City of Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato and Human Rights Commission officials brief parliament:
Four law enforcement officials have been suspended. EFF Member of the Committee Hlengiwe Mkhalipi says they believe the final outcome of the independent investigation into the matter is already pre-determined.
“When NCA (ENCA) was interviewing you, you were stressing the point, that it was not your people who made Bulelani naked, he was himself naked. So we don’t trust your investigation because it means that you are not neutral. You are already telling us what the outcome of the investigation will look like. We are very concerned about the way you treat our people in Cape Town, Mayor. Let me tell you why I am saying that, when we called you here before this committee we wanted to know how you are doing in terms of COVID-19, but there was already a concern regarding evictions and I think it was also Empolweni where the Minister Sisulu intervened.”
ANC blames JP Smith
The ANC Western Cape has called on the Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato to immediately fire Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith Smith. The ANC says Smith must take political responsibility for the incident.
ANC spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen says the Executive Director of Safety as well as the officer in charge of the operation must go. “We want all of them to go. If the mayor refuses to fire them, especially JP Smith, we believe by doing that the mayor will show that he is at the beck and call of the conservative wing of the DA. We call on the mayor to act responsibly and show that he really is the Mayor of Cape Town and not JP Smith.”
Smith says he had no role in the anti-land invasion operation incident. He says he did not even know the operation was taking place. He says he sought an urgent answer from law enforcement when images of the incident circulated on social media.
Calls to protect the vulnerable
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) says the government needs to act and stem the high level of violence metered out by law enforcement on the vulnerable. The institute has since written a letter to the Department of Human Settlements to halt evictions and the demolition of any structure which has been or is being constructed for the purpose of residential occupation during the nationwide lockdown.
Senior Attorney at SERI, Zamantungwa Khumalo, says the City could also face a lawsuit over the incident.
“The Legal Resources Centre Lawyers for Human Rights have indicated that they will be taking up this matter and going to court. Lawyers for Human Rights have said that they will also be seeking a damages case against the City of Cape Town for what they did to the man. But on our side, the municipalities always respond with violence and that is what is concerning to us, is that the level of violence is so high for the level of the transgression if it is even a transgression. What this COVID-19 has shown us is that for most of us we are one salary away from finding ourselves homeless and that is what the state also needs to be able to respond to.”