Cape Town - A blind busker who has played guitar at Greenmarket Square for several years was forcefully removed and his guitar smashed to pieces when several metro police officers arrested him for “loud noise and amplified noise in a public place”.
A video clip released on YouTube on Monday shows several police officers pulling Goodman Nono. He then falls to his knees a few times, and his guitar is carried by one officer.
Laura Newnham, who saw the incident, said on Twitter that she was disgusted and almost in tears at the treatment of Nono.
“Six policemen just assaulted a blind busker on Greenmarket Square, Cape Town in front of hundreds of witnesses, disgusting!”
She added that it was caught on camera by many.
“We have one clip of them dragging him away after throwing him on the ground. I see this poor man and his family daily and feel very strongly about this,” she tweeted.
Nono’s wife Abigail said: “My husband has been in Cape Town for 26 years and sitting and playing here since 2008. We are here every day and he sells CDs too. He makes about R300 to R400 a day.”
Passers-by stopped to voice their outrage at the treatment of the street performer.
“They were told to leave and I don't understand why,” said Zoleka John. “There are many selling drugs around here and they are not asked to leave. But he is playing a guitar all these years and why would people want him to leave?
Allan McDonald, who works nearby, described the metro police actions as “completely over the top”.
A tearful Abigal added: “They broke his guitar and beat him on his back as he was sitting. They let him go, but gave him a R1 500 fine.
“In all the years that my husband has been playing here we never had any problems. “We are scared now for him to play again.”
Nono wiped his eyes as he sat next to his wife, and said he felt very sad.
He has laid a charge with the police.
Two good Samaritans have since bought him a new guitar after they too saw the incident.
Muneeb Hendricks from the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) said several businesses had complained about Nono’s busking.
“The CCID did receive complaints from the surrounding shops and passed it on to the city to take action,” Hendricks said.
The ANC Youth League condemned the attack.
“This attack by the metro police on the dignity of a blind artist trying to earn a decent living undermines the essential values of respect for the most vulnerable which young people expect government and the police to uphold.
“The DA’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith and mayor Patricia De Lille should tell us which vile crime this blind musician committed to be treated in this manner,” said spokesman Muhammad Khalid Sayed.
Smith said the city was investigating the incident. “Allegations have been made that the busker was treated in an inappropriate manner. The city takes this seriously and an investigation will be launched.
“Disciplinary action will be taken if the officers are found to be guilty of any maltreatment or to have used excessive force.”
He said buskers, in accordance with the city’s by-laws, were permitted to perform during set times – from 12.45pm to 2pm on weekdays and between 10am and midnight on Saturdays.
Smith said Nono was not adhering to the times.
“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.”