VIOLENT FLARE-UP

Daily Maverick columnist Ismail Lagardien injured in Kleinmond abalone protests

By Suné Payne 6 October 2020

Kleinmond’s Main Road was closed on Monday after residents protested following an operation by the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit during which five arrests were made. Photo: Overstrand Herald

Journalist, political economist and Daily Maverick columnist Ismail Lagardien was seriously injured on Monday evening after protests erupted in the Overberg area of Kleinmond following the arrest of five alleged perlemoen poachers. Lagardien is in hospital awaiting surgery for a broken jaw sustained when a brick was thrown through the passenger window.

One person has been arrested for public violence in Kleinmond, near the town of Hermanus, following protests that erupted on Monday. The protests were in retaliation for arrests made in connection with abalone poaching. 

Daily Maverick columnist Ismail Lagardien was in the area when a brick smashed through his car window early on Monday evening. Speaking from his hospital bed on Monday night, Lagardien told Daily Maverick his jaw was fractured and he had several teeth missing. He was awaiting surgery. 

Ismail Lagardien was injured after a brick was thrown at his car during a protest, 5 October, 2020.  (this image has been pixelated) . Photo Supplied

Relaying events via text message on Tuesday morning (he was unable to speak audibly due to his injury), he wrote: “I saw a roadblock and tyres being laid out, so I drove through, towards the informal settlements to find out more.”

At the time he had his equipment and camera out. “That’s when the rock came through the passenger window,” he said. 

In excruciating pain, Lagardien drove to nearby Pringle Bay and asked someone to call an ambulance. He was taken to hospital, where it was confirmed that he had a chin fracture and a broken jaw.  

Captain FC van Wyk from SAPS Western Cape told Daily Maverick: “Members attached to the Western Cape Integrated Team assisted with a Crime Intelligence-driven operation with sea fisheries on abalone… five arrests were made for possession of abalone and diving equipment was seized.” 

File Photo: Police stopping the vehicle of the alleged kingpin of perlemoen poaching, a Sengalese national, on the outskirts of Kleinmond earlier. Photo: Overstrand Herald

Van Wyk said during follow-up operations at an informal settlement called Overhills, “members were attacked and stones thrown at them”.

The coastal town in the Overberg area, about 100km from Cape Town, is well known for being an abalone poaching hotspot. Abalone, also known as perlemoen, is a prized delicacy in Asia and poaching syndicates have been operating in the region for decades.

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Chairperson of the Hangklip/Kleinmond Community Policing Forum, Jacques Oosthuizen, referred Daily Maverick to police, saying the matter was “sensitive”. 

Ward councillor for the Kleinmond area Grant Cohen said he was awaiting a report on injuries and damage sustained in the protests. Reports indicate that the area is calm at the moment.

Cohen said that on the evening of Monday 5 October, “we met with community leaders at the police station”. The leaders had requested that police release the person who had been arrested for public violence. Cohen said this wasn’t possible as the person needed to appear in court on public violence charges.

Cohen said he was aware that cars had been damaged in the protests, and had received complaints of people in the informal settlement being shot with rubber bullets.

In August 2020, Nkosinathi Dana, head of monitoring and surveillance at the fisheries department, told CapeTalk that 13 poaching-related arrests had been made between April and August in the Kleinmond area. DM

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All Comments 8

  • How long has to been since the last police raid on poachers in this area? Years? lots of years? Many years? The poachers have had free reign on poaching! Where has the Navy been with their fast patrol boats and big guns?

    • Agreed. Perhaps if a higher level of interest and action had been ongoing against poaching over the years, the community would not be so shocked that it is actually illegal. Unfortunately poaching is sustained by cartels, corruption at the highest level, drugs, gangs and I think the law is frankly just too scared to take it on.
      As Overberg residents we watch daily as gangs of poachers brazenly enter and exit the oceans unchallenged. We are warned NOT to engage at all with them, it’s just too dangerous.
      Anyway, who cares about some sea creatures when there are far worse things to worry about?
      The fact that these ocean resources, if properly managed and accessible to the local people as a sustainable source of income, could be the saving grace of seaside communities, seems to have escaped everyone. Imaginevif our local people could fish and sell it for their livelihoods? When was the last time any of us was able to get kreef, alikreukel or perlemoen freshly caught by local fisherman in a seaside restaurant? Can you imagine the tourist potential of having that available in coastal towns?

      Nope. It must all be torn from our seabeds unsustainably by criminal cartels and blackmarketed to Asia.
      Heartbreaking.

  • Agreed. The law is the law!
    The number of abalone one is allowed per day is ZERO.

    Maybe if poaching is eventually controlled we may see this limit increased and abalone obtainable in restaurants.
    I have no sympathy for the poachers nor for the brick thrower.

  • There is a real story here. The local villages are filled with residents on a short fuse from watching poachers drive into their villages, off load divers and scuba gear and pillage the ocean day after day, while DAF does nothing. The residents send photographs of cars, poachers, group photos to DAF and the security agencies and nothing happens.

    The residents are afraid to walk near them. They are impotent with rage and someone is going to fire the first shot at some point. Currently, there is great discipline amongst residents who still cling to the hope that the Law will intervene, but it is a tinder-box under a keg waiting to explode. Lagerdien’s dreadful assault is the thin edge of this wedge.

    Today we see the farmers in the Free State turning to mob action because govt denies there is a problem. Poaching is heading the same way. The media has been absolutely in absentia on poaching, DM included.

  • Whilst I often disagree with the views expressed by Mr Lagardien, I wish him a speedy and full recovery. Horrible that such incidents happen in SA – violence has become the norm and our country is a dangerous place to live in.

  • The government is not gutless in this..they are directly complicit. All the abalone confiacated by DAFF is sold to the East to raise funds for…. you guessed it…. anti poaching . Go figure. Only the minions get prosecuted, those trying to put bread on the table. Is it not strange that the only busts there ever are are the big cashe of abalone ? Which then is sold by the government ? Many things it may be, but not gutless.

  • Get better soon Ismail. So sorry to hear of your ordeal. Tread carefully around these dudes …please be safe when you deal with poachers because it seems all up the line they have a lot to lose if exposed which puts you chaps in huge danger.

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