Onlookers were shocked and outraged as a famed blind guitarist, busking in Greenmarket Square, was manhandled and arrested by metro police in Cape Town, South Africa. His wife screamed for them to stop and they even smashed his treasured guitar.
The whole incident was captured on video, as the police dragged Lunga Nono through the streets. Nono's guitar was also allegedly smashed as he tried to resist being placed in a police van and an image of the officers breaking it can be viewed here.
According to 51-year-old Nono, he was hurt in the incident, and it also "broke his heart."
Nono told the Cape Times, "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," he added.
Nono's wife, Abigail, 41, told the Cape Times after returning from the central police station that she cried as the police dragged her husband away.
“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 added.
According to the City of Cape Town, Nono is only permitted to play from 12:45 pm to 2 pm on weekdays, and 10 am to midnight on weekends. Metro police said that Nono contravened the municipal by-laws by busking outside his allotted time.
Nono is a left-handed guitarist with an unusual playing style and is famed for his performances in the tourist spot of Greenmarket Square.
However, not only has he lost his guitar, but he also faces a R1,500 ($150) fine.
According to City of Cape Town mayoral member for safety and security, JP Smith, Nono had “repeatedly disregarded regulations and was verbally abusive to our officials for months, thus resulting in multiple warnings being issued to him.”
Smith added that the officers were forced to detain Nono and his wife “for causing a noise nuisance and failing to obey instructions” after several complaints had been received.
A number of non-governmental organizations and political parties have slammed the actions of the police saying that, judging by the video footage, officers used excessive force against a disabled man, who was just trying to make a living.
Reportedly the City of Cape Town has now launched an investigation into 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 and dealt with,” said a statement issued by the City.
The video above states that a benefactor has given Nono a new guitar, but he is now afraid to play in Greenmarket Square, in case he is arrested again.
Below is a short video of Lunga Nono performing in the square: