Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato maintains that the Khayelitsha man, whose eviction is described as having highlighted the brutality of forced evictions, was clothed before police officers raided his shack.

A video of law enforcement officials manhandling Bulelani Qolani outside his shack went viral on Wednesday.  Four officials have been suspended pending a probe by the City.

Speaking on Morning Live on Friday, Plato defended forced removals.

“There was several attempts to invade that site because we want to build houses and if people continuously invade, we will never be able to build houses for people in need of houses. That person was caught on video, you must realise when we do raids of that nature we do there are people standing by to take the necessary pictures, it always ends up in court. This person had his pants on, he was clothed and when the officers reached for the structure, all of the sudden within moments he was naked, he was not initially naked, it says to me that is why it warrants a full scale investigation to determine all the facts.”

He has urged has called for the public to allow for investigations to be completed.

“I think the officers should have shown some restraint particularly when the person was naked and they should have tried to cover him at least and in that manner get him out of the structure, it did not happen. The officers are suspended and at the end of the day we have launched an internal investigation into the whole matter but in saying that that we don’t condone that kind of behaviour.”

Below is the full interview with Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato:

Call for transparency

Amnesty International South Africa has called for transparency in the City’s probe.

“Amnesty International South Africa joins calls on the City of Cape Town to carry out an in-depth investigation immediately, to make the findings of this investigation public and for officers responsible to be held accountable..”

The organisation is also urging government to ensure that all victims of forced evictions and other human rights violations have access to effective remedy, which includes compensation, repatriation and guarantees of non-repetition.

Amnesty International SA says Qolani’s plight has highlighted the cruelty of forced evictions.

Litigation looms

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu plans taking the City to court over the matter.

The Minister’s Spokesperson Yonela Diko says the City’s actions were illegal.

“They cannot be evicted without alternative accommodation that should be found and secondly now we are on lockdown and the rules are very clear that people should not be evicted, so the Minister felt that because we spoke to the City of Cape Town about this, we’ve had engagement that there is nothing in law that empowers any state institution to humiliate people to take away their dignity even law enforcement, so the Minister is really incensed that’s why we taking this route of going to court.”

The Human Rights Commission in the Western Cape and opposition parties have laid a charge against the Metro for allegedly being in contempt of Disaster Management Regulations on evictions.

In the video below, Yonela Diko is being interviewed:

Community irate

Community members marched to a local police station to vent their anger following the incident.  They say the city had no right to evict people during the lockdown, with one community leader accusing the City of Cape Town of targeting the poor.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Machwene Semenya, has also denounced the law enforcement officers’ actions.  Semenya says the actions of the city are inhumane and inconsiderate considering that it’s winter.

She also described Qolani’s eviction as unwarranted, cruel and repulsive.

In the video below, a charge is laid against the City of Cape Town: