Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said she had instructed SANParks to suspend the officers who were involved in the incident which left South African rider Nicolas Dlamini with a broken arm on Friday.
Creecy was speaking to News24 on Friday evening shortly after she visited the cyclist in hospital to hear the turn of events directly from him.
In a video widely shared on social media, four rangers can be seen aggressively trying to shove Dlamini into the back of a van.
— Lawrence Lindeque (@larrymontana) December 27, 2019
“I had the opportunity to visit Nic at the hospital where he is undergoing treatment. I have instructed SANParks, the chairperson and senior management of SANParks to suspend the officers who were involved in this incident.
“I have also instructed them to undertake an independent investigation so that we can have the full facts,” Creecy said.
She added once the investigation was concluded, necessary steps would be taken.
News24 reported earlier that the matter was under investigation, with SANParks obtaining statements from the rangers who were involved in the scuffle as well as Dlamini.
Creecy said while all the facts were yet to be obtained, from what she had seen in the circulating video clip, it appeared that the officers “behaved in a highly inappropriate manner”.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde had also visited Dlamini in hospital. He said the circumstances surrounding the incident required an urgent full investigation and that there should be consequences for the “heavy-handedness” which the officials reacted in the situation.
“Their aggression was evident not only in their attitude toward Nic Dlamini, but also towards other cyclists on the scene who recorded the incident.
“No matter what the circumstances, there is no excuse for this kind of reaction,” Winde said.
The premier added that the incident had revealed the fractured relationship between the cycling community and SANParks and said his office would be establishing a round table discussion in a bid to repair the relationship.
“This incident undermines Brand South Africa, at a time where our economy can ill-afford further damage to our brand and our tourism economy.”
In a statement, Dlamini’s cycling team, NTT Pro Cycling, said following the incident, the 24-year-old was taken to False Bay Hospital where X-rays were taken, and it was confirmed that he had suffered a fracture of his left humerus. He was then transferred to another hospital for further specialist consultation, they said.
The cycling team said it condemned any form of violence and was highly distressed to see one of its teammate treated in the manner that he was.
The team has also called on SANParks to, among others, implement immediate disciplinary procedures against the officials involved and issue a full public apology to both Nicholas, as well as the eyewitness, whom it says were “clearly intimidated by the officials while filming this incident”.
NTT Pro Cycling team principal Douglas Ryder said: “I was both devastated and appalled to see the video of Nicolas on social media. To watch a young man who I know so well in such unnecessary distress made me feel sick, to be honest. The way in which he was treated is simply not acceptable.”