Suspected poacher shoots police officer in the jaw during search for missing houseboat crewman at Jozini Dam
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DURBAN - INGWAVUMA police are investigating a case of attempted murder following the shooting of a police officer who was searching for the crewman missing after a fire broke out on a Shayamanzi houseboat.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said on Monday morning, officers were patrolling at Jozini Dam, searching for the missing victim, when they saw three men at the edge of the dam.
“One of the men fired a shot at the police officers and the bullet struck a warrant officer in the jaw. He was rushed to hospital for medical attention.”
Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) MEC Ravi Pillay called for communities to work with law enforcement and conservation agencies to clamp down on poaching.
Pillay said the department was concerned about poaching, incidents of which were being reported across the province. The department would release information on the shooting incident once a full report had been received.
“The SAPS, communities, conservation agencies such as Ezemvelo (KZN Wildlife), tourism organisations and all relevant stakeholders need to work together to protect our natural resources. All of us have a duty to ensure the sustainable use of resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”
Poaching not only had a detrimental effect on the environment, it impacted tourism and economic development.
“The natural resources that we are endowed with are one of our key selling points as a destination. Some of our unique species are a core attraction to travellers and therefore depleting these resources will have a negative impact on our attractiveness as a tourist destination,” Pillay said.
Pillay said criminal elements and syndicates, some of which were sophisticated and apparently well-financed, were behind poaching activities, and they should be reported to law enforcement by communities.
“It is in our best interest to ensure that we protect our natural resources, that is why we need this new united front against poaching syndicates.”
On Monday, DA Edtea spokesperson Heinz de Boer said they would continue to push for a multi-departmental intervention in Jozini following the shooting.
De Boer said the incident came amid ongoing poaching in the dam, where thousands of fish are netted weekly.
“That criminals would be so brazen as to shoot a SAPS officer points to a major threat to the area.”
He said a major intelligence-driven operation was needed to unearth a syndicate operating in the area and protect the only South African dam that stocks tigerfish.
“Fishing and the associated tourism remain one of the largest economic drivers within the entire Umkhanyakude District – a region that is already ranked as one of the poorest in South Africa.”
De Boer said the safety and lives of all residents and the economic sustainability of the region were non-negotiable.