Khayelitsha’s Bulelani Qolani has laid a criminal complaint after he was dragged naked from his shack, with his lawyer claiming it amounted to torture, under the Prevention and Combating of Torture and Persons Act.
‘We’re claiming that it amounts to torture in terms of the Act, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said the lawyer, Sherylle Dass, commenting on Qolani’s eviction.
Dass, who is from the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), has not named any accused yet, but wants to go for all of the officials responsible “from the top to the bottom” – and not just the four law enforcement officers who were suspended. She said this would include the “decision makers”.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said Harare police were opening cases of Contravention of the Disaster Management Act, malicious damage to property, assault and crimen injuria in connection with the incident.
Dass, meanwhile, said the police were “very helpful” when they went to lay the complaint, and had allocated a senior official to investigate, but they would monitor progress.
Outrage followed after Qolani was filmed being chased naked and tackled by law enforcement officers during an eviction in eThembeni, which is opposite the Zandvliet Waste Water works in Macassar. His shack was also broken while he was inside.
The City of Cape Town swiftly suspended four law enforcement officers and condemned the actions as captured on the video.
Mayor Dan Plato also apologised, but added that, while evictions were not allowed during the lockdown, land invasions were also not permitted.
The City of Cape Town said it is urgently investigating the circumstances of a video depicting law enforcement officers cornering a naked man outside his shack. The shack was then torn down with the man inside.
The City stated on Wednesday that the land on which the shacks had been built was set aside for utility infrastructure.
Qolani’s shack was perched on a sandy plot near a site where almost 50 shacks were demolished, but then allowed to be rebuilt in April.
Qolani told GroundUp he was bathing, and had asked for a minute, but he was thrown outside.
He had been living there since 16 March.
Dass said the LRC will also be pursuing an interdict on behalf of the SA Human Rights Commission, to challenge the eviction policies of the City.
They intend interdicting the City from demolishing and evicting informal structures and housing structures during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
They will seek further declaratory relief in terms of the conduct of the anti-land invasion unit, and the evicting of people without a court order.
They will also seek an interdict against all evictions in the province until the lockdown is over
Politicians from the opposition EFF and ANC in the council also laid complaints against the City over the incident, and slammed the majority DA government.
ANC councillor Xolani Sotashe and EFF councillor Mbulelo Dwane were among those present.