KwaZulu-Natal - Suspended Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela was never arrested over alleged illegal hunting in Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Monday.
Lt-Col Vincent Mdunge said: “It is true that he was never arrested”.
He said that according to information received, on Thursday around 11.30pm a local farmer spotted a bakkie in a Himeville game reserve, which he believed poachers were using to conduct illegal hunting.
The farmer called other neighbouring farmers for help and they managed to stop the bakkie.
“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,” Mdunge said.
He said the farmers fled in “fear for their lives”, but took photographs of the men and the two buck carcasses in their bakkie.
“[The farmers] called the local police station, but when police arrived [the alleged poachers] had already left,” Mdunge said.
A case of illegal poaching was opened at Himeville police station.
“We do not have a clear identification of the suspects, but McIntosh Polela himself has been in the public domain, alleging he has been hunting on the farm,” Mdunge said.
“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 on Monday morning, 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 new it was a case of [the farmer using] cowboy tactics.”
Polela claimed 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.
On Twitter, Polela said: “Polela was arrested? For hunting in his community farm? He's been doing so since the age of 5. Sewerage gossip.
“Its bad enough when a farmer crosses into yo[ur] land & reckons brown people poach. If anyone told me I need permission to hunt in my own land, I would leave buck alone and hunt them instead.” - Sapa