News24

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.

Comments
  • Herbert - 2011-03-04 21:06

    I wish someone asked him how, and by what inane reasoning he was given a rank having never served? Can't a spokesperson, just be a spokesperson? No rank, just Mr, Miss or Mrs. So and So? Him getting the rank of Colonel is demeaning to the serving who strive for rank!

      Sizwe - 2011-03-05 00:07

      Chip getting heavy on the shoulder there ol' chap....

  • DW - 2011-03-04 21:14

    During the years of conscription it took many many months of heavy training, both physical and mental, for someone to be promoted from private to lieutenant or captain (let alone further promotions). Please tell me how all these Colonels, 5 star Generals etc managed to get their ranks. Their guts are so fat they couldnt walk up a flight of stairs, let alone run 15km with a 15kg backpack - it demeans anyone who has actually worked for their rank

      Andy49 - 2011-03-04 21:41

      @Herbert @DW - they get this rapid promotion due to this thing called deployment for my "connections" no qualifications required, just be a so called struggle hero, f****d if I know where they get the 'hero' part from.

  • Go_Mario - 2011-03-04 22:17

    One thing about the Africans is the speed at which they change their names to European ones (sirnames included !). Some take on very funny names (as long as is European). Finger,sms, Elephant etc etc. On the other hand they want to change the name of localities to African ones . . . WTF They should make their minds up for a change.

      Sizwe - 2011-03-05 00:20

      To put matters into perspective. When the missionaries arrived on our shores and spread the word, they made it a formal requirement for a child to have a European/English name upon his/her baptism, ergo the title; "christian name". The title came to be associated with this practice. Since christianity is the most followed religion amongst Africans, it stands to reason that most will have a "Christian name". On the wide usage of the "christian name", this can simply be explained by the economic demographics of our country wrt who owns what, hires whom and the simple fact that most "non-africans" speak mother-tongue only, and almost all of them cannot speak an African language.

      sinjoku1 - 2011-03-05 14:27

      Sizwe i speak 4 languages. None are African. Due to the fact that they are useless when doing business abroad. Not a racial issue just simple facts. if you need know languages then learn them in this order 1) Spanish 2) English 3) Chinese 4) Portuguese.

      sinjoku1 - 2011-03-05 14:30

      Oh and if you want to do some business in Africa French will help a lot along with the Portuguese. Sorry man but there are fewer people in Africa speaking true African languages than you think making Zulu Xhosa and so on only useful here in SA.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-03-05 12:42

    This is pretty handy for politicians. What? I never said that! That was Jacob! Not me, I am Vusi. Prosecute me for something someone else did? Check the records. Vusi did that, not me, Thabo. I just want the pensions of Jacob, Vusi and Thabo.

  • DJ - 2011-03-07 14:19

    For some reason there appears to be huge interest in McIntosh's personal life and I wish the South African media would learn what a balanced story means. This constant scruitiny is hurtful for McIntosh and to those who love him. He constantly has to defend himself on sensitive and personal issues. This is a message to all journalists who work in South Africa - particularly the one who wrote the original story in the Citizen. Learn how to write balanced news articles. You have a lot to learn in terms of real journalism. Ironic that McIntosh himself is a fully-trained journalist. One of the few good journalists in the country. The industry is not the same without him.

  • DJ - 2011-03-07 14:23

    For some reason there appears to be huge interest in McIntosh's personal life and I wish the South African media would learn what a balanced story means. This constant scruitiny is hurtful for McIntosh and to those who love him. He constantly has to defend himself on sensitive and personal issues. This is a message to all journalists who work in South Africa - particularly the one who wrote the original story in the Citizen. Learn how to write balanced news articles. You have a lot to learn in terms of real journalism. Ironic that McIntosh himself is a fully-trained journalist. One of the few good journalists in the country. The industry is not the same without him.

  • Kekeletso.nax - 2012-12-21 06:51

    My heart breaks for you, glad you come out on top of your game. God bless you

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