Funeral arrangements are underway for a homeless man who was shot and killed by a City of Cape Town law enforcement officer.
Dumisani Joxo who was fatally shot allegedly by a Cape Town law enforcement officer on the 9th of January will be buried in Mission Village in Butterworth on Saturday. He was shot during an altercation reportedly between his friend and the officer over the dousing of a fire. A homeless man, Joxo stayed with his partner and friends in a tent on an open plot in Rondebosch. “His body will leave for the Eastern Cape on Thursday but we will take it to our family home in Makhaza in Khayelitsha before leaving for Butterworth,” said his younger brother, Mzwanele.
Last week Friday at his memorial service held at the Chester Road camp, Mzwanele told the mourners that Dumisani was kind and caring: “He didn’t have money or assets to give me but he was supportive towards me. The fact that he was poor didn’t matter to me. He used to share the small things he had with everyone. This person took my pillar away from me. I forgive the person who killed him because I want to be free from hate”.
Mzwanele described his brother as someone who liked music especially reggae: “He introduced me to Bob Marley. He would shine his shoes whilst listening to Marley’s music,” he said. Dumisani’s friend and resident of a nearby camp, Portia Ncoko also remembers his love for music. “We called him Speakerbox music man. When you hear music, you know its Dumisani,” she said.
Chris Nissen from the South African Human Rights Commission was among the 50 mourners who attended the memorial service at the camp, which lies alongside railway tracks. “We cannot have a situation where homeless people are being criminalised the way they have been in the city. Even with the by-laws the City criminalises homelessness. So, as a commission, we are taking that up in terms of its constitutionality. In this case, we want the law to take its course but at the same time we need to ask questions as to what are the instructions given to law enforcement officers when they have to deal with homeless people,” said Nissen.
A friend of Joxo, Christopher Ceaser told the mourners that the accused told them to put their fire out but they refused, telling the officer that they were preparing to cook. “There was a scuffle between the officers and Linda, who is Dumza’s closest friend, and at that time Dumza said he wanted to go to relieve himself. Linda stood in front of Dumza as if to prevent him from leaving and he knelt down and that is when Dumza was shot. No warning shot. We heard a gunshot and Dumza was on the floor. He was away on the scene,” said Ceaser.
“That bullet could have shot any one of us, even my kid who came to visit that day. That officer came here aggressive. He came here with his own issues. It is not our fault that his dad passed on. He should have told his superiors about what happened to his family and not come to work and take out his aggression on us,” said Christin Coleridge, partner to Dumisani. “Do you know that Dumisani was beaten up brutally with a steel pipe by two officers a week before he was shot? They broke his ribs,” she said.
Joxo was shot in the mouth and the bullet exited through his neck. Coleridge described what happened to her lover in painful detail: “You know Dumza’s tongue was sitting at the back of his neck. Did he deserve it? No! His tongue was blocking the blood from running. He spat in my face trying to tell me something. His lips moved but the tongue prevented him from speaking.”
The officer, Luvolwethu Kati was arrested and charged with murder at the Wynberg Magistrate Court. Kati was granted bail of R1,000 and is expected back in court on April 12. The bail amount has angered the residents of Chester Road Community. Caren Rhode, a manager from Rainbow House which takes in homeless people, said that the bail amount that was given to Kati is a joke: “I have been fined R1,000 for sleeping on the streets and yet this man takes away someone’s life, somebody who protected many in Rondebosch, someone who is a provider, and he gets a bail of R1,000!” she said.
“In America, a black man is killed by cops and the whole world goes crazy. But, in Rondebosch, Cape Town, a homeless man can be shot and the City tries to squash it, hide it until it was leaked. The shooting happened on Sunday morning and we only heard about it on Monday afternoon. Something like this usually goes viral immediately but this one was kept hush-hush. Had it not been leaked, it was going to be squashed because it is a homeless person. Law enforcement is worse that SAPS [South African Police Service]. The way they treat us is the reason I say that. When I was still living on the streets, SAPS would come and search the place but no physical abuse like the City cops,” said Rhode. She told Elitsha that she still considers herself as someone who lives on the streets.
The memorial service was organised with the help of housing advocacy group, Ndifuna Ukwazi. After some pressure from Ndifuna Ukwazi to contribute to the funeral costs, the mayor of Cape Town committed an undisclosed amount and said he would meet with the family. The City denied that this would prejudice the ongoing criminal investigation, and that the mayor’s move is a public relations exercise.