OPINION: Is Qolani being used?

Phiri Cawe

The now viral video showing a naked Bulelani Qolani being dragged by law enforcement officers has attracted widespread condemnation, and it’s clear why: he was treated in the most inhumane way possible

But I’ve noticed that as his story spread across social media, we all claimed him, we shouted out loudest, we cried out loud about racism and further accused the DA government of hating black people.

In some of these claims and accusations I will need better and much more informed people to school me for I don’t buy them.

However, I will raise my hand to denounce the behaviour of the individuals who held the operation. They should have done a better job than dragging the man while he was naked, whether he staged it or not.

I will distance myself from the race issue and black people being hated. All I know is the act was inhumane. It should not have happened in that way. If Bulelani did stage it – and the jury is still very much out on that – I hope the whole thing doesn’t backfire for him in months to come.

While the incident has certainly won him and his community something of a reprieve in the short-term, just how things are likely to play out in the months ahead is less clear.

With elections next year, I fear his name and the images of him naked will be rolled out as a reminder of how black people in the Western Cape are treated. They may well win votes but I wonder what harm it will cause to Mr Qolani and his family when his body goes from being a bold political statement to yet another social media meme courting laughing emojis.

Will he take it on the chin when his children come back from school to report how other kids have mocked their father?

I agree he is a hero now, but I fear that is temporary and he will be forgotten when those whose political careers he has buoyed find another cause cé* èbre.

Just a day after the incident there were two different marches, all in his name, organised by different individuals, NGOs and political parties. There was a clash because everyone wanted to be seen as a human rights fighter.

Why couldn’t they sit down and come up with one united march? There’s a split in that community now because of the power hungry lions. They can’t wait to gain back power and go around collecting a few cents from that community with a promise that they will fight for their rights. But where were they all along? Because people do not believe in themselves, these guys will use them and the community will bow to that nonsense.

Bulelani Qolani’s name and those shameful images will be used by the manipulators in coming months and all he will get is humiliation from some parts of the community.

I just hope that when people see him, they pat him on the back and commend him. I hope children will see a brave man not a naked man. Black man, you are on your own.