Game ranger killed in 'friendly fire'

2011-09-12 23:00

Pietermaritzburg - A game ranger was accidentally shot dead by colleagues whilst they were tracking suspected rhino poachers in Mfolozi Game Reserve at the weekend.

The ranger was identified as Zephania Mbuso Myeni, 39.

He'd been working for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) 18 years.

The organisation said Myeni had been a “very influential front man on combating poaching” in its reserves.

EKZNW said the accident happened after field rangers from the Madlozi camp picked up two human tracks leading in a southerly direction into the wilderness area on Saturday evening.

After reporting to the command structure, four field rangers were despatched, including Myeni, who held the rank of corporal in the anti-poaching unit.

En route to the scene where poachers allegedly fired three shots at about 18:30, the team divided themselves into two groups in order to reach the site as soon as possible and cover a larger area.

The two teams subsequently intercepted one another in the darkness.

Hearing nearby human activity, the leading group took cover waiting to see whether the sounds were poachers or their colleagues.

Heart wrenching

“Waiting to hear a familiar sound … the staff sergeant heard a gun fire and a bullet flash through the undergrowth,” said EKZNW media spokesperson Maureen Zimu.

The staff sergeant shouted out identifying them as Ezemvelo rangers but the shooting continued and Myeni was hit and subsequently died.

EKZNW CEO Bandile Mkhize said it was heart wrenching that “committed and selfless field rangers” were responsible for mistakenly killing one of their own members.

He said the suspected poachers had escaped.

EKZNW will conduct an internal investigation into the incident and ensure that stricter measures are put in place to prevent an incident like this happening again.

EKZNW’s rhino security intervention co-ordinator Jabulani Ngubane paid tribute to Myeni as a “dedicated and committed” field ranger.

Ngubane said Myeni had been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards, including bravery awards and the Golden Lions Head which is awarded for the successful recovery of a loaded gun.

As a member of the anti-poaching unit, Myeni took part in numerous “dangerous” operations including combined security operations involving the police and Ezemvelo.

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-09-12 23:07

    Sorry, I smell a rat!

      ChumScrubber - 2011-09-13 06:10

      I don't think so, this sort of thing can easily happen. Had a mate who did 18 months border duty - their one contact in the entire period was with own forces - resulting in the death of a corporal. Daytime nogal. The KZN APU's are excellent, this was more likely a mistake as claimed. Sad.

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:12

      You smell a rat? - maybe your nose is too close to another orifice - and that is NOT your mouth!

  • OZNOB - 2011-09-12 23:10


      Capricorn - 2011-09-13 07:21

      So sad. Here they are trying to get rid of the A**hole poachers and one of their own gets killed. Condolences to the family

  • DarkB4Dawn - 2011-09-13 01:37

    You guys are doing a great job in total darkness and tough conditions. My condolences.

  • watyasay - 2011-09-13 04:15

    a top ranking ranger who was in chrage or curbing rhino poaching was killed, how convenient! but very sad, feel for his family!

      OBwun - 2011-09-13 08:10

      If you have never been in field conditions then rather fit a cork! KZN rangers are of the best & a very thorough investigation will be held. Hamba Khahle, Mfo.

  • Denel - 2011-09-13 05:28

    Very sad and my condolonsces to his family and friends - our poaching problem is critical and we definitely need more well trained anti-poaching units!

      Walter - 2011-09-13 05:52

      Agreed, and insofar as KZN is concerned and reading yesterday's paper about the reed dance and speech made by King Zwelithini, I believe that all rhino within the bounds of the province should be proclaimed the King's personal property.

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:06

      @Waletr - why? And how will this rid the scourge of poaching?

  • Mr D - 2011-09-13 05:50

    Don’t fool around send the ANC veterans there to sort out the scum

      wbs777 - 2011-09-13 06:28

      HA HA HA HA!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! HA HA HA HA !!!! This comment must surely be the little gem of the day

  • Dmitri - 2011-09-13 06:24

    Sad to hear this. Friemdly fire does occur in conflict areas, and as it was night, any movement, sound adds to the tension. RIP, and the rest of the guys, keep up the good work and get the scum who kill our wildlife.

  • Great White Shark - 2011-09-13 06:26

    I have my own views on why it happened but I'll refrain from judging. It might offend some. Lets just say that training is very important when you are expected to use force in your line of work...

  • Daddy - 2011-09-13 06:32

    Sounds dodgy and like a coverup. What did he see? Was he silenced?

      Cary - 2011-09-13 07:42

      Anyone who did any sort of military service will tell you that there are friendly fire incidents out on patrols. Very unfortunate. Condolences to friends and family.

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:07

      Daddy - you are a chop! A frot one at that!

  • duncan - 2011-09-13 06:49

    MMMMMMnnnnnnnnn, he was very efficient. Maybe too efficient ?

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:08

      You have some brown stuff in the corners of your mouth - kak!

  • Coyote - 2011-09-13 06:50

    so sorry to hear this... may he rest in peace

  • Bok Fan - 2011-09-13 06:53

    What a loss to the nation. Condolences to his family.

  • Cowgoesmoo - 2011-09-13 06:54

    Very, very sad. Condolenses to the family and friends. I have never quite understood the oxymoron "friendly fire"

  • clive.brink - 2011-09-13 07:21

    So sad, RIP comrade - we dont need to lose dedicated and experienced rangers. This was the result of poor training and negligence. Training, training and more training - and then bring back the Jack Greef's who had the experience and could hold operations like this together, or what now Mr Maggs - ever been in a hostile fire contact?

  • daaivark - 2011-09-13 07:32

    This is bizarre. I see that this may well happen, but it is still bizarre.

  • PunkBuster - 2011-09-13 08:20

    In today's day and age, this is a totaly avoidable incident. Two way radio's guys. RIP Myeni.

  • Verbatim - 2011-09-13 08:46

    What happend to the nightvision goggles supplied by 702 and other donations or did these guys not get any? This was an avoidable tradegy that could have been prevented with simple training and tried and tested tactics to avoid friendly fire

  • Mike - 2011-09-13 15:05

    This is just more blood on the hands of the poachers and those criminals in the far east!

  • pages:
  • 1