Spokesperson explains name change

2011-03-04 20:44

Johannesburg - Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela had to discuss a painful part of his past on Friday following a report on his use of various names during his life.

"There is nothing new to discover," said Polela, after The Citizen reported that he was initially called Steven Shezi, but was known as McIntosh Nzimande while working for e.tv, and as McIntosh Polela in his position as the Hawks and, sometimes, police spokesperson.

He explained that the name changes were linked to the murder of his mother Delisile Shezi, when he was 4½-years-old, at the hands of his father, a Nzimande.

"I was born Steven Shezi as they rightly say," he explained.

He was not upset by the revelation of his past names, but said: "I was just disappointed that they didn't try to find out before they wrote. The insinuation and the suggestion was that McIntosh is a fraud, which I could never do."

According to a draft of a book he has written on his life, they spent a few difficult years with their grandmother, not knowing that their mother was dead.

About seven years later, his sister was taken in by the McNamara family, which provided shelter for orphans, in Underberg, in the southern Drakensberg.

Although he did not live with them, they told him they considered him to be part of their family and treated him as such.

Later, his English teacher declared that he probably was going to become a journalist, so the McNamara's decided that to prevent his father finding him after hearing a radio broadcast, or seeing him on television, he should change his name.

"If I was a Shezi, my father was going to... find me."

"We had gone through an exhausting process of trying to find a name for me," he said.

"And one day I was listening to Peter Tosh's album 'No Nuclear War' and decided to choose the name McIntosh." This, after the reggae artist's real name - Winston Hubert McIntosh.

He chose the surname Nzimande believing that his father would not think of looking for a Nzimande, but a Shezi.

"It was just to make sure my father couldn't find me when I wasn't ready to meet him," said Polela, adding that he had been very angry with his father.

He began formally using the name McIntosh Nzimande when he started working as a journalist.

He said the McNamara family had spoken about him taking the McNamara name, "but imagine me being McIntosh McNamara?" "I also wanted to keep my roots," he said.

When he came back to South Africa after being at the London School of Economics, he decided to meet his father as part of the process of writing his life story.

His father, whose first name he refuses to reveal, showed no remorse and said he would not apologise for his mother's murder, as he had hoped.

"I decided to disown him and break the ties and everything that he represented," he continued.

This meant also changing his surname.

He chose the surname Polela after the name of a river that runs through the village where he grew up in Underberg and where he had a life-changing experience.

He had since applied to home affairs for the name McIntosh Polela to be registered as his official name and said Hawks head Anwa Dramat knew his background.

His autobiography, titled "My Father, My Monster", was due for publication in September, he said.


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