A bodyguard of Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi was arrested with four others by the Green Scorpions on Saturday for illegal hunting on a private farm outside East London, as well as for breaking Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
A vehicle belonging to the department was also confiscated from the officer, the Eastern Cape provincial police said on Saturday.
The warrant officer, who cannot be named until he has appeared in court, was one of five men arrested by law enforcers from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Forestry, also known as the “Green Scorpions”.
He is attached to the SAPS VIP Protection Unit in Bhisho.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said the suspects, aged 30 to 62 years, will appear in the King William’s Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Soci said the men face charges of illegal hunting, trespassing and contravening the Disaster Management Act.
The alleged incident happened as the country entered Day 44 of the national lockdown.
Soci said: “Police were alerted by a member of the community about five men that were hunting on a farm. Four suspects aged between 30 and 62 years were arrested for illegal hunting, trespassing and contravention of the Disaster Management Act. These suspects were arrested while hunting and it is alleged that they did not manage to poach any animal.”
Soci said one suspect fled the scene. A pursuit by police yielded no results, she said.
The incident took place around 15:00, said officials who were at the scene.
Soci added: “The vehicles that were used in the crime were confiscated (four vehicles, including a state vehicle).”
Police officials close to the investigation told News24 that the state vehicle, which was driven by the bodyguard, was used to transport hunting dogs.
Mani-Lusithi’s spokesperson, Lufefe Mkutu, said the MEC’s office was investigating the matter.
“We will look into the matter but also it’s really an issue of safety because a protector is attached to MEC. And I think it’s really an issue of safety and we will get direction and the way forward from them [VIP protection unit], on their internal process.
“But on the use of the departmental car we really condemn it and we think it’s really unacceptable and unfortunate.”
Environmental affairs departmental spokesperson Ncedo Lisani had not responded to questions at the time of writing.