Cyclist Nic Dlamini's lawyers fear cover-up
Dlamini was on a training ride when his left arm was broken during the incident at the Table Mountain Park.
The incident, which left Dlamini requiring hospitalisation and out of action for more than three months, was captured on video and circulated widely.
There were claims that Dlamini had allegedly failed to produce a permit for his ride through the park. Therefore, the park's rangers confronted him.
His legal representatives, Norton Rose Fulbright, have prepared a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application so that they could receive the report prepared by SANParks attorneys after investigating the incident.
Craig Woolley, a Durban-based director of Norton Rose, said the report could provide them with a better understanding of the mandate given to rangers on effecting arrests.
Woolley said there was huge public interest, and they wanted to see there was “no cover-up” in the handling of the matter.
He said the PAIA application, which grants citizens and others a legal right to access information held by government entities and corporate organisations, was necessary to force SANParks to make the report public.
Woolley claimed that the investigation was completed, but SANParks have withheld the release of the report.
“SANParks attorneys interviewed a number of people and also asked Nic (Dlamini) for a statement, which he gave them.
“They (SANParks) have since received the report from their attorneys, but have not made the content public, which they should have done.”
Woolley said the report would not affect the damages claim they were preparing on behalf of Dlamini, but it may provide details on the version of the rangers.
He is convinced that the video showed exactly what happened on the day in question.
“There is lots of interest from the public who use the park, especially those have also suffered at the hands of the rangers previously. They want to know that there has not been another cover-up.”
Woolley confirmed that his client had filed criminal charges, and the investigation was ongoing,
At the time of the incident, it was feared the injury would scupper Dlamini's hopes of riding in the Tokyo Olympics, which was scheduled for July.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Games has been postponed to next year.
Dlamini, who rides professionally for the NTT Pro Cycling club, has since recovered full fitness and is currently based in Spain.
Jean Smyth, NTT’s head of communications, said the incident in Cape Town gained global attention and left Dlamini with a significant delay in his return to full training, due to injury.
Smyth said Dlamini moved to Europe in mid-March, once he was cleared by their team's medical department.
“Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Nic hasn't been able to race yet in 2020, as he wasn't fit enough in time to be eligible for selection for the races prior to the racing calendar being suspended.”
Smyth said Dlamini had already shown his strength and ability when he stepped onto the international cycling in 2019. He rode in his first “Grand Tour”, the Vuelta a Espana (Spain), and put in an impressive performance.
“He's a strong rider with excellent ability. Once the racing season resumes, we really do hope that he'll feature strongly in the races he's been selected for. The delay of the Olympics, one of his big goals for the season, has played favourably into his hands, in light of his injury.”
Smyth said Dlamini was determined to represent his country in Tokyo, and presently, had his eye on earning one of eight spots in NTT’s team that will participate in the Tour de France, which begins in Nice on August 29.
Rens Rezelman, chairperson of the Pedal Power Association, said: “The assault on Nic (Dlamini) was a complete disproportionate use of force on a professional rider”.
“If Nic didn't have a permit, take him to the gate and get him to pay your one day permit fee, but the rangers' action was disproportionate.”
Rezelman said his concern was that SANParks had shown “a laager mentality and they try to keep things in-house when they do an internal investigation” in the past.
He said that it was tragic that the incident happened to a cyclist who came from an informal settlement, featuring on the international stage, and inspires so many people.
Ray Thakuli, SANParks head of communications, said the matter was being handled by their lawyers, therefore, they were unable to disclose facts that were material to the incident.