Government must act against violence on vulnerable: SERI

Red Ants during evictions.
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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.

This follows an incident in Khayelitsha earlier this week where officers evicted a naked man, 28-year-old Bulelani Qolani, while his shack was broken down during an anti-land invasion operation.

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.” 

ANC blames JP Smith 

Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, says he had no role in the anti-land invasion operation incident in Khayelitsha. Smith was responding to calls from the African National Congress (ANC) that Mayor Dan Plato must fire Smith. 

The ANC says Smith must take political responsibility for the incident. Smith 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. 

 The ANC Western Cape has called on the Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato to immediately fire Smith. Four law enforcement officers have been suspended pending the outcome of an independent investigation into 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.”

Plato says the officers should have exercised restraint: