CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African cyclist and Olympic hopeful Nicholas Dlamini has suffered a broken left arm while being detained at Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park by rangers who were accused of being unnecessarily aggressive and heavy-handed.
Part of Friday’s incident was captured by a witness on a cellphone video and then circulated on social media. The video appears to show Dlamini being pushed up against a parks vehicle by one of the rangers and his arm twisted behind his back. He’s then shoved into the back of the pickup truck by the same ranger as three others watch on.
The South African National Parks service said Dlamini was riding in the park without a permit or paying an entry fee and that he resisted arrest.
The claim Dlamini resisted arrest was disputed by the witness who took the video. The witness, identified as Donovan Le Cok, said in a statement that the rangers just knocked Dlamini off his bike to check for a permit or ticket.
“Nick was quite upset. He was hurt and his bike was damaged,” Le Cok said.
After a discussion, the ranger then “just laid into” Dlamini, Le Cok said. That’s when he started filming on his phone.
“(The ranger) turned him around and twisted his arm high above his head. You can hear in the video his arm snap and crack at which point Nick was just screaming, saying ‘My arm’s broken, my arm’s broken.’
“They just proceeded to throw him into the back of a van. All the while he is still shouting ‘my arm is broken.’”
South Africa’s minister of environment ordered the rangers involved to be suspended and the parks service to hold an investigation. Western Cape province premier Alan Winde said there must be “consequences” for the heavy-handedness of the rangers, who he said were also aggressive to other cyclists who witnessed the incident.
“No matter what the circumstances, there is no excuse for this kind of reaction,” Winde said.
The 24-year-old Dlamini is one of South Africa’s most promising riders and was hoping to qualify for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. He was training in the park.
He rides for the NTT Pro Cycling team, formerly known as Team Dimension Data. It was the first African team to compete at the Tour de France and former world champion Mark Cavendish is one of its riders.
Dlamini made his Grand Tour debut at the Spanish Vuelta this year. He won mountain classification titles at the lower-level Tour Down Under in Australia and Tour of Britain in 2018.
NTT Pro Cycling said Dlamini was in the hospital and the broken arm was “a major setback” for him ahead of a “hugely promising 2020 season.”
Team principal Douglas Ryder said he’d watched the video and that his rider’s treatment was appalling.
“To watch a young man who I know so well in such unnecessary distress made me feel sick, to be honest,” Ryder said. “The way in which he was treated is simply not acceptable.”
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