Today’s edition of ‘ways the City of Cape Town makes people of colour feel unwelcome’ involves Bulelani Qholani, Dan Plato, who is the Mayor of Cape Town, and a staggering inability to read the room.
If you haven’t yet seen the video showing Qholani fighting physically with law enforcement officers, do so here, with Qholani having given permission for the video to be uploaded to social media.
In the aftermath of the video being widely shared, the City of Cape Town has suspended four officers who were involved in the evictions, pending an investigation.
For Qholani, that won’t cut it, and TimesLIVE reports that he is now taking on the city:
Qholani and his former neighbours returned to the land they had been ejected from after laying charges at the police station.
“I opened a case against the city and officials,” he said. “Only justice can restore my dignity. I sustained several injuries from the tussle — I am in pain. The whole community saw me being dragged around and all I wanted was to cover my body. I am embarrassed to face the world.
“I just pray that no-one goes through what I went through. Enforcing the law is one thing, but those men should have at least allowed me to put something on my back.
“I am happy that the Legal Resources Centre has come on board and are helping me with the legal process. So I am waiting for the investigations to be concluded so that I can rebuild my life — and maybe rebuild my home.”
I have seen people online talking about how the law enforcement officers were just doing their job, and following the letter of the law by evicting people who broke the law by erecting structures illegally.
DA MP Mbali Ntuli, who is running against interim party leader John Steenhuisen for that top position, summed it up nicely:
Unathi,nobody wants to live in a shack in winter during a pandemic. We have criminalized being poor. It is absolutely right that Cathy, I& others condemn the way that law enforcement treated that man. I’m sorry you can’t see the inhumanity. https://t.co/ZmfiGTdiwW
— Mbali Ntuli (@mbalimcdust) July 2, 2020
So, how does Mayor Dan Plato fit into all of this? Well, when speaking to eNCA about the video, he accused Qholani of staging the incident “to put the City of Cape Town in a bad light”.
Did Dan and Helen Zille go to the same ‘read the room’ night classes or something? If so, they’re both failing miserably.
Plato said he spent the afternoon watching footage recorded by officials. He said the footage he had seen painted a different story and said the officers had seen the man clothed at another shack before finding him next in the structure.
“Moments before our officials moved to that structure that person did have clothes on… Initially he was not in the structure, he was standing in the previous structure and moved into the structure and the officers moved in.
“When he was standing in the doorway, and I do have pictures right here in front me, he had clothes on and when the officers moved into the structure he did not have clothes on,” said the mayor.
Breaking news – before washing myself, I too have clothes on, and then at the time of washing, I do not.
Plato went on to say that dwellers often stripped themselves naked and stood in front of illegal structures, “adding it was not the first time, nor would it be the last time such an incident happened”.
“That person I am of the opinion it was staged act to put the City of Cape Town in a bad light,” he said.
When he was quizzed about Qholani being a family-centred Christian man, Plato retorted: “People can say anything on television.”
That is at odds with an apology Plato had offered to Qholani, where he said the man was subjected to “shameful circumstances” and the law enforcement officers’ behaviour was “not the type of conduct that we tolerate in this city”.
You can read Qholani’s account of what happened here.
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