Metro police bust blind busker

Cape Town 130708 Security and Metro Police ruff up and arrest a blind guitarist busker on St Georges Mall. Photo by Michael Waker

Cape Town 130708 Security and Metro Police ruff up and arrest a blind guitarist busker on St Georges Mall. Photo by Michael Waker

Published Jul 9, 2013


Jan Cronje and

Xolani Koyana

OUTRAGED bystanders watched yesterday as Metro Police forcefully removed a well-known blind busker from St George’s Mall, dragging him along the ground and breaking his guitar, while his daughter and wife wept.

Delft resident Lunga Goodman Nono, 51, is now facing a fine of R1 500. The city says he busked outside his permitted time and refused to stop, forcing it to remove him.

Nono and his wife Abigail have lodged a complaint against the metro police.

Abigail Nono, 41, cried as her husband was dragged away by four metro police officers at about noon yesterday.

“I told them to leave him alone. I begged them to stop what they were doing but they wouldn’t listen to me.

“His back hurts now because they dragged him on the ground.

“My daughter was with us when this whole thing was happening. She couldn’t stop crying when they pulled my husband to the police van,” she told the Cape Times after returning from the central police station.

She said the police officers broke her husband’s guitar. But police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana could not confirm if a case had been opened.

The city said he had contravened a by-law. It was investigating allegations Nono had been treated inappropriately.

Nono has been busking on the corner of St George’s Mall and Shortmarket Street in the city centre since 2008 and was popular among passers-by.

Sitting on an upturned crate

covered with blankets, he holds his guitar upright with its strings facing him. He sings mostly gospel songs.

Nono said he had been hurt by the incident. “I would really like to tell those police that I did not rob anyone, or break into anyone’s house.

“I’m playing to support my family. There is nothing else I can do to support my family. They must just let me work.

“How they dragged me on the ground and tore my clothes, that hurt me. It broke my heart,” Nono said.

Nono said he had gone to great lengths to get city permission to busk on that corner and had been assured he had. He had gone to the police to get a document allowing him to busk on the corner and had been referred to municipal offices at the Civic Centre. There he had been told a document stamped by the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court and police five years ago and by the Family Court only last Wednesday, was sufficient.

Abigail said complaints and demands to have her husband removed had been lodged by Jamal Leather manager Arshad Ali, who trades opposite Nono’s spot. The Nonos have obtained an interim protection order against him, with a return date of September 4.

But Ali denied lodging a complaint:”We don’t have any problem with him. He is a blind man, he can sit anywhere.”

He said people had already come to his shop accusing him of having Nono arrested.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said Nono had permission to busk on the corner only between 12.45 and 2pm on weekdays and from 10am to midnight on Saturdays. But he had “repeatedly disregarded regulations and was verbally abusive to our officials for months, thus resulting in multiple warnings being issued to him”.

Smith said Nono had been warned again yesterday.

“After being verbally abused by the couple, the officers were forced to detain them for causing a noise nuisance and failing to obey instructions.”

Nono was warned to appear at the Municipal Court on October 1 on a charge of disobeying an instruction from a metro police officer. If found guilty, he will be fined R1 500.

Smith said they would probe the incident: “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.”

Abigail said she received a child support grant and her husband a disability grant, but the money he earned playing guitar was their main income. They commuted by minibus taxi from Delft to the CBD, a 60km return trip, to perform on the corner between 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday, making about R200 from passers-by on a good day.

Witness Ronald Kirwana, who owns a stall in Greenmarket Square, said traders had no problem with the busker.

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