Monday, February 11, 2013
Polela nabbed for alleged poaching
Polela nabbed for alleged poaching
FILE PICTURE: Suspended Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela
Polela took to Twitter, claiming that the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Nature Reserve he had been arrested on was his ‘community farm’.
11 February 2013 | PAUL KIRK
SUSPENDED Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela this week found himself in hot water again – this time for allegedly poaching protected wildlife using a high-powered rifle and a spotlight.
Hours after being arrested by wildlife officials, Polela took to Twitter, claiming that the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Nature Reserve he was arrested on was his “community farm”.
On Thursday evening, he was caught red-handed with two antelope carcasses on his vehicle while allegedly trespassing on a nature reserve.
Polela and a group of men were allegedly shooting at animals from the back of a bakkie.
They were arrested by KZN Wildlife anti- poaching officers after a farmer from a neighbouring KZN Wildlife nature reserve noticed a vehicle driving through the nature reserve with spotlights.
Simon Acutt, the farmer who spotted the poaching said: “I don’t want to say too much as the case is sensitive and I am probably going to be a witness in this case.
“However, there was an incident on Thursday night – and a group of men were caught inside a nature reserve with a duiker and a common reedbuck on the back of their vehicle.
“There was a silenced rifle in the vehicle and this was seemingly being fired from the vehicle over a sandbag.”
After contacting the police a stand-off apparently ensued between Polela, his alleged accomplices and wildlife officials.
Polela and several other men eventually surrendered to wildlife officials and were taken to Himeville police station where a case was opened.
Acutt told The Citizen that a high- powered custom-built rifle fitted with a silencer and a high-powered telescopic sight were confiscated by police and sent for ballistics examination.
A source in KZN Wildlife, who did not want to be named, said that apart from exceptional cases, it is illegal to shoot animals from a vehicle.
“The rifle will be tested to see if it is linked to other poaching cases and the matter will be investigated. There will also be an investigation to see if the gun is licensed,” the source said.
Polela is now the focus of a poaching and illegal hunting probe by his former colleagues from the Organised Crime Unit of the police – which falls under the Hawks.
When he was contacted at 9.30am yesterday, Polela said he was sleeping, then turned his telephone off. SMS and e-mailed requests for comment were sent to him but got no response.
He is currently on suspension from his post, on full pay, after he posted comments on social media site Twitter, poking fun at prison rape.
Feb 11 2013 11:10PM
Hawks man: I was not poaching
IT WASN'T ME: Suspended Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela denies allegations that he was arrested for pointing a firearm at a farm owner. picture: REFENTSE SEBOTHOMA
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TNA Reporter and Sapa
Suspended Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela has rejected as incorrect reports that he had been arrested for illegal hunting in Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal.
Polela said a farmer who alerted the police had pointed a firearm at him and his companions.
“Mgxawozi (the farmer) pointed a gun at us. But I initially didn’t take it seriously because I knew he was trying to use cowboy tactics,” Polela said.
He said he was surprised that the farmer later “dreamed up” the issue of them having pointed a gun at him (the farmer), when the farmer never mentioned this to the police who came to investigate his call.
“If he did so, I believe we would have been arrested by the police who came to us that night,” Polela said.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lt-Col Vincent Mdunge said: “It is true that he was never arrested.”
Mdunge said that according to information received on Thursday about 11.30pm, a local farmer spotted a bakkie in a Himeville game reserve which he believed poachers were using for illegal hunting.
The farmer called neighbouring farmers for help and they managed to stop the bakkie.
Mdunge said: “There were four occupants and when (the farmers) asked questions there was a confrontation where one of the occupants allegedly pointed a gun at the farmers.”
He said the farmers fled in “fear for their lives” but took photographs of the men and two buck carcasses in their bakkie.
Mdunge added: “(The farmers) called the local police station but when police arrived (the alleged poachers) had already left.”
A case of illegal poaching was opened at Himeville police station.
Said Mdunge: “We do not have clear identification of the suspects but McIntosh Polela himself has been in the public domain, alleging he has been hunting on the farm.”
“He claims it was a community farm that he has been hunting on since he was a toddler. Nonetheless, we cannot confirm those allegations.”
Following the farmers’ allegations that one of the men pointed a gun at them, no case had been opened immediately, but Mdunge said a report on the matter was requested from the investigating officer.
Speaking about the incident yesterday, Polela confirmed that he was hunting in Himeville on Thursday night.
He said a local farmer and his son approached the men “brandishing his gun”.
“I was not scared of the guns. I I knew it was a case of (the farmer using) cowboy tactics.”
Polela said police arrived and spoke to him and his friends. “The police were really polite. They checked my guns – three rifles – and checked they were legal.
“They didn’t confiscate my rifles. I am looking at them now.”
Polela said he would approach the Press Ombudsman over a report in The Citizen which claimed he was arrested by wildlife officials.
He also criticised the newspaper for claiming that he switched his phone off after the newspaper initially contacted him for comment. Polela said he would also ask the Ombudsman to check his phone records to prove he had not received text messages from the newspaper requesting comment.
Polela denies getting arrested for poaching
Suspended Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela has denied reports that he was arrested for poaching antelope. Picture: EWN
Shain Germaner | 21 hours ago
JOHANNESBURG - Suspended Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela on Monday denied reports that he was arrested last week for poaching.
The Citizen reported Polela was caught shooting buck at the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Nature Reserve on Thursday evening and was arrested.
It reported a neighbouring wildlife nature reserve farmer alerted police when he noticed a vehicle driving through the reserve.
But Polela said he was not even at that reserve.
And he said no arrests were made when police arrived to investigate his group's hunt, and said he was “surprised” to read the news about his so-called arrest.
Polela said the police left once they inspected their rifles and found them to be legal.
He was suspended as Hawks spokesman last year, after making comments on Twitter poking fun at prison rape during musician Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala’s murder and attempted murder trial.