South African National Parks will investigate an incident that left a cyclist injured after a scuffle with rangers.
The confrontation was recorded and shared on social media.
Nicholas Dlamini underwent surgery for a broken left arm Saturday, a day after the incident at the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, said his team, NTT Pro Cycling.
Later Saturday, his manager, Mark Sinclair, told CNN in an email that Dlamini “must take legal advice” and would make a statement to police when he is “well enough.”
The video – caught on film by a fellow cyclist, according to NTT Pro Cycling, and later posted by a Twitter user with the handle @larrymontana – was played more than 640,000 times by 2 p.m. Saturday in the UK. It showed a ranger pinning the 24-year-old Olympic hopeful against what appeared to be a park vehicle before shepherding him behind it. Other rangers look on.
Dlamini appears to ask for a video to be taken more than once, at one stage seemingly saying, “Please take a video. My arm is broken.”
It wasn’t clear what happened in the moments before the video was taken.
CNN reached out to the Twitter user who posted the clip but didn’t immediately hear back.
According to South American National Parks (SANParks), Dlamini didn’t pay to get into the park and became “aggressive” when approached by officials.
“We regret having this thing happen in our national park and we continue to wish Nicholas Dlamini a speedy recovery in hospital but what really happened is that these rangers were alerted by gate officials that a cyclist went past the gate without paying the mandatory fees,” Reynold Thakhuli, SANParks’ acting head of communications, told CNN by phone Saturday.
“They then approached the cyclist … who was quite aggressive towards them, which led to this scuffle,” Thakhuli said. “We are at a point of appointing an independent investigator, who will interview every single person, including the rangers, gate officials, as well as Mr. Nicholas Dlamini.”
The rangers will be put on precautionary suspension, which is standard procedure, he said.
“It is quite unfortunate, but it had to happen to get to the bottom of it,” said Thakhuli.
“We continue to view this as quite serious and we want to get to the bottom of it,” he later said. “We noted the video itself, which will form part of the investigation. But we simply wouldn’t just rely solely on that.
“It’s good that we also get the account of witnesses, and witnesses that have seen this thing from the gate up until the point where the incident took place.”
Jean Smyth, listed as the point of contact on the NTT Pro Cycling statement, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment to SANParks’ claim that Dlamini didn’t pay the requisite fees.
“I’m unable to confirm either way at this stage. We are in the midst of establishing all the facts,” Sinclair said.
Dlamini’s surgery “went well but no prognosis can be made at this early stage as to when he might be physically and mentally able to return to full training,” said Sinclair.
He was in no position to speak with press, Sinclair added.
Team ‘highly distressed’
NTT Pro Cycling said it was “highly distressed” to see its rider “treated in this manner.”
“The video taken by the eyewitness clearly outlines the course of events which saw Nicholas sustain this injury,” it said in the statement.
NTT Pro Cycling added that Dlamini was on a training ride ahead of a “hugely promising 2020” after a “very promising 2019” that saw him participate in his first Vuelta a Espana. He hopes to be picked for South Africa’s Olympic team, it continued.
NTT Pro Cycling urged SANParks to “implement immediate disciplinary procedures against the officials involved” and to give a full public apology to Dlamini and the eyewitness, who, the team said, “was clearly intimidated by the officials while filming this incident.”