Police minister Bheki Cele has dismissed the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement unit as a rogue structure.
On Saturday, Cele visited Bulelani Qholani, the man who was seen in a video being dragged naked by officials during a land-invasion operation in Khayelitsha.
The minister said his visit was in response to the 28-year-old’s “impassioned” pleas for President Cyril Ramaphosa to come to his rescue.
“The president said I must come instead,” Cele told Qholani at the site where he was evicted on Wednesday.
Cele said there was “criminality” in the incident and the city council law enforcement unit, unlike the metro police, had no oversight body. He said he has been engaged in talks with the Western Cape government and the city over the legitimacy of the unit.
He said another incident had emerged in which a half-dressed woman was roughed up by the unit in 2018. It would also be investigated, he said, saying the criminal matter would be overseen by the office of the national deputy commissioner.
“Where [in the world] has a naked man been taken out [of his house] to be seen by the whole world naked? Cele asked.
“It’s another level of brutality. All members of the police service and metro [police have] structures that look after them — that is the Ipid (Independent Police Investigative Directorate).
“One major problem about this law enforcement, you just don’t know where next to go when [such] things happen. It’s a structure that is built on roguery, it’s a structure that does not necessarily fall under protocols of the law of the constitution and others.”
He said he raised concerns about the unit early this year. “I started dealing with this matter of the non-accountability of this structure since February,” he said.
“The premier [Alan Winde] was in the meeting, there was Mr [Richard] Bosman [Cape Town’s safety and security director], there was [mayoral committee member for safety and security] JP Smith.
“There were things that were outstanding from them to show us that indeed we are dealing with a legal structure. Up to this point those things are not forthcoming.
“So we have started another process [and] in the next 14 days we will be engaging them. But each time these things happen, I pick up the phone. I phone the premier and I phone the [community safety] MEC [Albert] Fritz.
“Unfortunately, they haven’t come back to me to [tell me] what they have found out of the matter. At no stage will we stop engaging where we are supposed to engage as different government [departments], but at the same time law will have to take its course.”
Cele said the video of Qolani’s clash with law enforcement officers was shocking.
“I have never seen such a thing in my life. I was arrested a lot of times during my youth, we were called terrorists, but even then, when police came to fetch us they told us to dress and before taking us,” he said.
“I will not respond to claims [by Cape Town mayor Dan Plato] that someone, a man and a father, would wilfully get of his door naked. Even the special branch allowed us to dress up. This is a first.”
By Philani Nombembe – TimesLIVE