Protection officer rocks the boat

READING the latest TotT about stray animals, I remembered how only the other day I found this poor, starving dog trotting along the R72 near the Riet River turn- off.

Before I could get close enough to catch it, it took off into the dense bush nearby and despite a long search, I could not find it.

After a sleepless night worrying about it, as it was a freezing night with high winds, I returned the next morning to the same spot and did a more thorough search up and down the R72 but still with no luck.

I was also about to report this to the SPCA, when I read the TotT article about strays. Besides being devastated to find out that there was no municipal pound, I was interested to read the man to speak to was Mr Willem Nel.

A few years ago, this same man stopped me when I was driving slowly in the harbour car park on my motorcycle, but as I was only travelling a few metres to the harbour office to make an enquiry, I had not put my crash helmet on. Leaping out of his unmarked bakkie, with no badge of office and holding up his arms to stop me, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was committing a serious offence. No introduction, no “good morning sir”, just a lot of noise.

I explained that I was on my way to the harbour office, etc, and in a car park and not to be so rude and officious in the way he spoke to me. Besides, who was he anyway to stop me? He could not have understood as he kept on ranting as I put my helmet on and drove away, leaving him standing there.

I was stopped a few years later by the same man, this time with a rubber duck as his  weapon of choice. First a loud siren blast and then with a loudhailer he told me to pull over on the river as I was not far enough to the right (no other boats in sight) and my wake (being
almost zero from my houseboat, top speed 8km/h) could damage jetties nearby.

All this in a loud voice, no “good morning”, no introduction, no chat, just loud shouting. As before, I just looked at him in amazement and carried on slowly. I had broken no laws but yet I was being treated as some sort of mad skipper. I have held a coastal navigation ticket
now for over 30 years and have had thousands of hours at sea on various boats. I reported this incident later and was told that many complaints by other boat-users had also been reported about his manner of enforcement and intimidation. So now we know, Nel is a reluctant dog-catcher, a pseudo traffic officer and a rude marine law enforcement officer all rolled up in one – a so-called community protection officer.

I think that what the community of Ndlambe really needs, is protection from Mr Nel.