City investigating treatment of blind busker - Cape Town

JP Smith says individual repeatedly disregarded regulations and was verbally abusive to officials for months (July 8)

City investigating case of busker removed from St Georges Mall

The City of Cape Town is investigating an incident today, 8 July 2013, involving a blind busker at St Georges Mall who was in contravention of City by-laws. Allegations have been made that the busker was treated in an inappropriate manner (see Cape Times report).

The City takes this very seriously and an investigation will be launched. The City of Cape Town's Law Enforcement officers are expected, at all times, to act according to the City's commitment to creating a Caring City and one in which by-laws are adhered to and all residents behave with full regard for the law. Disciplinary action will be taken if the officers are found to be guilty of any maltreatment or to have used excessive force. The matter will also be referred to the Civilian Oversight Committee to ensure that it has been adequately investigated and dealt with.

After speaking to the relevant staff, I can confirm that the busker had been given permission, in accordance with the City's by-laws, to play his guitar during set times, i.e. from 12:45 to 14:00 on weekdays and between 10:00 and midnight on Saturdays. He was advised at the time that permission could be withdrawn if he failed to comply with the set times and if he created a nuisance.

Unfortunately, he repeatedly disregarded regulations and was verbally abusive to our officials for months, thus resulting in multiple warnings being issued to him. The City and the Central City Improvement District received numerous complaints regarding his activities in the area.

Officers warned the busker again today, 8 July 2013, that he was in contravention of by-laws. They reported that they tried to persuade him and his partner to adhere to the by-laws, with no success. After being verbally abused by the couple, the officers were forced to detain them for causing a noise nuisance and failing to obey instructions. The busker resisted being placed in the vehicle and the neck of his guitar was broken.

The City supports busking and creative forms of entrepreneurship. In this case, officers reported that they were merely trying to enforce that the busker stick to the regulated times, following a number of complaints from local businesses.

While we must enforce the law, we must always do so in such a way that respects the dignity of all concerned. I will ensure that, if that was not done in this case, appropriate action will be taken. The investigation will run its course and the results will be reported on.

Statement issued by Alderman J.P. Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town, July 8 2013

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