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NTT pro cyclist Nic Dlamini suffered a broken arm during a scuffle with park police at Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa.
A park spokesman alleges that Dlamini, a professional since 2016, failed to pay the entrance fee of R90 (about US$6.40) to the park.
Video shot by cyclist Donovan Le Cok show rangers handling Dlamini roughly before throwing him in the back of a van.
Le Cok was not riding with Dlamini at the time, but was cycling in the area and began filming as he saw the situation escalate. Reached by phone, he told CyclingTips that the park rangers grabbed Dlamini’s handlebars, causing him to crash.
“He fell at quite a high speed,” Le Cok said. “He was a bit sore and the bike was damaged so he was clearly irritated. And then a senior official confronted him and it kind of escalated from there.”
Le Cok told CyclingTips that he and other cyclists had had “run-ins” with the rangers in the past, which is why Le Cok made his way to the incident as it unfolded. As he was filming, a senior park official twisted Dlamini’s arm to the point of injuring him.
“Nic was shouting, ‘I’ve broken my arm, I’ve broken my arm, I’ve broken my arm,’ and they proceeded to throw him in the back of the van,” Le Cok said.
A statement issued by Table Mountain National Park said that rangers were investigating a cyclist riding without a permit and “the situation spiraled,” “causing the suspect to injure himself during the ordeal.”
Le Cok noted that he and fellow cyclists had had “run-ins” with park rangers before.
“They were sort of trying to get me to stop filming, and they were asking for my permit, which I had on me,” he said. “They were pretty aggressive towards me as well.”
X-rays posted hours later on Twitter showed a severe fracture of Dlamini’s upper arm.
According to SanParks spokesperson Raymond Thakuli told News24, “the cyclist became quite aggressive with the rangers, hence the scuffle. The arm may have broken as a result of him resisting arrest.”
The SanParks spokesperson said a full investigation would be completed.
“We are aware of a video in which one of our riders, Nic Dlamini, was involved in an incident in Cape Town earlier today,” NTT said in a statement. “He’s currently undergoing medical assessment after which we’ll be able to provide a full update on what transpired.”
Team principal Doug Ryder said that he was “both devastated and appalled” in NTT’s statement, which called on SANParks to discipline the officials and apologize.
“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.”
Provincial premier Alan Winde, himself an avid cyclist, called for an investigation of the incident to be conducted “thoroughly and with urgency.”
“No matter what the circumstances, there is no excuse for this kind of reaction,” he said in a statement.
“There must be consequences for the heavy-handedness with which the SANParks officials reacted in this situation.”
CyclingTips has reached out to Dlamini for comment but has not yet received a response. This story is developing, please check back for updates.
Dane Cash contributed reporting to this story.