Four City of Cape Town law enforcement officers have been referred for disciplinary proceedings after being caught on camera roughly removing a naked man from an informal structure during an antiland invasion operation in Khayelitsha.
A video went viral which shows the naked man being dragged from his shack and wrestled to the ground by officers.
After the incident, the city said it had obtained footage which showed the man, Bulelani Qolani, had removed his clothes to “taunt officers”.
In a statement yesterday, mayor Dan Plato said: “During an antiland invasion operation in Khayelitsha on 1 July, an altercation ensued involving law enforcement officials after a member of the public deliberately disrobed.
“This was an apparent attempt to thwart the operation, aimed at protecting land on the direct pathway of a water pipeline construction project.”
The city has since referred the four law enforcement officials for disciplinary proceedings, which will be independently chaired and initiated.
This action was in line with the recommendation of an independent investigation, Plato said.
“All city employees are bound by the municipal code of conduct for staff. Independent disciplinary proceedings will ensure fair and impartial consideration of the matter.”
Plato added that the city was aware of an affidavit, submitted to the Western Cape High Court by Qolani, in which he “confirms that he went into a structure, undressed and emerged naked without prompting, exposing himself to onlookers while the operation to dismantle illegal structures was taking place”.
In the statement, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith added: “Mr Qolani claims to have then immediately re-entered the structure in order to allegedly bathe.
“Video filmed by law enforcement during the operation further depicts Mr Qolani emerging from a structure naked and unprompted. This happened prior to the altercation with officials, which is the subject of a disciplinary process.”
Smith said the “deliberate disrobing” was a tactic officials have witnessed before and have now developed a strategy for coping with it. Officers will now “[cover] the disrobed person with a blanket” before escorting them from the structure.
The city also stated that aerial photographs indicated Qolani had not taken occupation on 16 March as initially claimed. His structure had first been noted on the day of the antiland invasion operation.
The city has a court order permitting the removal of illegally-erected structures in the path of this project.