Police probed after harbour shootings

Some police officers face investigation following the alleged shooting of three “illegal” fishermen in two separate incidents.

Provincial police spokesperson, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, says the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating the incidents.

Ipid spokesperson, Moses Dlamini, confirms the investigation. “We are investigating two attempted murders regarding the two witnesses that were with the missing fisherman. The body has not been recovered to date. Police divers have been searching since Monday for the missing person. Ipid has all the allegations and affidavits and has also inspected the boat of the missing fisherman and recovered exhibits.”

The first incident occurred on Friday 10 August when 26-year-old Durick van Blerk was allegedly shot and then disappeared in Hout Bay Harbour. This incident reportedly resulted in a massive protest by furious residents and local fishermen, who allegedly attacked harbour staff and damaged a number of properties between Sunday 12 and Tuesday 14 August.

The search for Van Blerk continues.

In the second incident, police allegedly shot and injured two suspects when responding to a tip-off on Thursday 16 August. Additional arrests were made, increasing the number of illegal fishing and protest-related arrests to 17.

Spokesperson for Hout Bay police, Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch, says: “Police followed up on information and followed suspects to a house in Hangberg, Hout Bay. On their arrival four suspects were inside the house and the police could see there was a firearm visible inside a small cupboard through the glass front door. Members noticed that the suspects reached for a firearm. [They] fired one warning shot with an R5. During the search a 12-gauge shotgun was recovered and handed in as evidence. A paintball gun was also handed in.”

Lesch says police searched the premises and found crayfish and rock lobster with an estimated value of R80 000. Two suspects sustained injuries to their lower legs. One suspect was transported to Victoria Hospital and the other two have been detained.

Khaye Nkwanyana, spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), says the protests resulted in damage to state property and coastal offices of the department being set alight, while the lives of the officials on site were seriously threatened.

“The South African Police Service and DAFF security, together with the Department of Public Works, are investigating the matter that has hampered operations in the harbour. Engagements with the community will take place.”

Meanwhile, Khoisan Defiance Campaign spokesperson Sammy Claassen has called on Minister Senzeni Zokwana to account. “We condemn the brutality of the department. We also condemn the negative term ‘poachers’ used by the department against poor fishermen and communities as derogative and unacceptable.”

V Are you a fisherman at Hout Bay Harbour? Share your experience with us at post@peoplespost.co.za.