Leon Bekker of George, wearing sunglasses, says that he did not haul the great white shark on to the rocks after he had hooked it.

Melanie Gosling

Environment Writer

THE man who caught a protected great white shark in Mossel Bay says he did not know the animal was a great white when he hooked it while sport fishing.

He also says he did not haul it onto the rocks to pose with it for photographs – insisting that the shark had been washed onto the rocks by waves.

Through tip-offs from the public, the Cape Times traced the angler, Leon Bekker, who lives in George.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Bekker said: “The water washed it up. I’m not that strong.”

Asked why he had not cut it loose after he had hooked it, as required by law, he said: “I’m a beginner at this (sport fishing). I didn’t know it was a great white. I’ve been doing this for a year only. I normally do take hooks out.”

The Cape Times was sent a sequence of photographs which show Bekker, with another man, hauling the great white onto the rocks.

One of them shows Bekker being handed a tape measure to measure the shark’s length.

Bekker denies that he was trophy hunting or that he was giving a thumbs up sign while posing next to the great white, which was still alive.

“That was not thumbs up. That was to show a greeting: ‘hosh, my broer’ (howzit my brother.) That’s how we greet in the Western Cape.

Read the full story in the print edition of the Cape Times