By Joseph Zulu
Bhekinkosi Ngcamphalala paid a very high price for allegedly being found poaching an Impala by game rangers. He has now been left partially blind after his badly injured eye was removed.
Ngcamphalala was among about six others who were ambushed by rangers patrolling Mkhaya Game Reserve last Monday. He was shot in the left side of the head by rangers who are said to have received a tip-off that poaching was in progress. “The eye was completely damaged,” he said during an interview. Ngcamphalala is currently a Form Five pupil at Sigcaweni High School.
He hopes to still go ahead and write exams this year as he had completed the syllabus. He also admitted that he could not see clearly during the interview as he was only using one eye. The fourth alleged poacher, however, paid the ultimate price. He died.
This is Mncedisi Fakudze, an 18-year-old who was a pupil at one of the primary schools in the Lubombo region and was laid to rest last week in Malindza. After the tip-off that poaching was in progress, rangers headed to the spot where a shootout ensued, resulting in the four being shot.
After the shooting, the alleged poachers fled in a Toyota bakkie although information gathered is that they later told police that they were attacked by unknown men.
It turned out that the unknown men they were referring to were in fact rangers. Swift acting police officers from Mpaka, however, received a call from the game reserve that the men who claimed to have been shot by unknown people were in fact shot by rangers after they were allegedly caught poaching.
Ngcamphalala alleged that he was in the company of five others but had not been poaching when shot. He argued that he was at one of the farms next to the game reserve when he was shot at, adding that he usually goes to the farm as he sometimes works as a cattle herder. “We were driving in a car and the next thing we heard loud bangs,” said Ngcamphalala.
A comment was sought from Kathy Wright from the Big Game Parks but she requested that a questionnaire be sent to her.