Polela pleads guilty to poaching protected species
Fired Hawks spokesman, McIntosh Polela, has pleaded guilty to four counts of poaching protected species at The Swamp Nature Reserve, in Himeville.
He was fined R30 000 and disqualified from applying for a hunting licence for two years after his guilty plea was accepted.
He had entered into a plea bargain with the state.
Polela has to pay R10 000 before the end of January and the balance by March.
On Thursday morning he appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court where he was found guilty of two counts of hunting common reedbuck and a grey duiker – both protected species.
His plea of guilty to hunting without a permit and using artificial lights to hunt, which is prohibited, was also accepted.
His hunting rifle, silencer, scope and tripod were also confiscated.
He refused to comment to the media, making a quick exit immediately after pleading.
All offences were committed on February 7 this year at the Swamp Nature Reserve in Himmeville.
In amplification of his plea, Polela said that on the night in question, he was invited to join a hunting party at the nature reserve.
He said that as he had grown up in that area, he regarded it as his ancestral land and had often hunted there without incidents. However, he said that he had become aware prior to this incident that legislation existed which controlled the hunting of certain game and admitted that he was reckless in ignoring this legislation.
The Daily News reported at the time that a KwaZulu-Natal farmer had caught Polela “red-handed” at the reserve.
Approached for comment then, Polela had denied he had done anything wrong. He also had told the Daily News that he had not known the buck was a protected species or that he needed a permit. He had dismissed the incident as nothing but an attempt by a white farmer to treat a black person as a criminal for hunting.
The Himeville farmer, whose name is known to the Daily News, had handed over pictures to police of Polela and his hunting party, as well as the shot animals in the back of a bakkie.
On Twitter at the time, Polela said: “Arrest is garbage. The cops came and checked my rifles and left my mates and I to carry on hunting.”
Referring to the farmer, Polela had said: “I hope he took good pictures. He must prove that I shot the animals on the reserve. We were hunting on community land. I got permission from the local chiefs. In fact, one of them was even with me at the time.”
The farmer, who lived close to the reserve, had said he had been watching TV at 11.20pm when he noticed a spotlight in the reserve.
“The vehicle appeared to be making strange turns and the spotlight was all over the place,” he had told the Daily News. “I became suspicious and decided to investigate.”
The hunting party had “brazenly” ignored him when he approached the bakkie and flicked his lights at them to stop.
The farmer alerted another farmer on the two-way radio, and they had confronted the Polela.
After a chase they stopped the bakkie, and took pictures.
He said at the time that the poachers had become extremely abusive and called them “white racist bastards”.