EDITOR — I refer to your article titled “Police hunt for Leopard Rock Hotel owner” published on November 18. The headline and content of this article is not only misleading, but appears to give the impression that I am a fugitive from the law. By filing this report based on incomplete information from a WhatsApp group in which we both belong and he did not even bother to contact me (when he has all my details), I think your writer might have acted recklessly.
This is despite the fact that I had made extensive comments on the Vumba Environment Group (VEG) and that we have extensively communicated in the past.
Moreover, your writer had the names and phone numbers of all the three police officers — via the same platform — who came to Leopard Rock without an invitation and search warrant or an arrest warrant.
While it is also worrying that he chose not to contact any of the policemen in question, it leaves me with the belief that he favoured sensationalism and a jaundiced brand of journalism bordering on the unprofessional, and questionable ethics.
At the time of my VEG message, I thought that police “were there to arrest me” and for which I gave my full comment on the group, and for which I said:
“They do nothing about criminals breaking into a pound and vandalising it and breaking his cattle out but they sent three police officers to arrest me on hearsay by someone illegally on my land!”
As it turns out, the police wished to “question” me and I was subsequently advised or even contemplated filing a complaint against their superiors. And had your team fulfilled its duty of conducting due diligence, they would have known and these facts, and background — but probably it “would have killed your story and the problematic headline”.
As it is, I have been accused by an illegal settler on Leopard Rock that I threatened him with a firearm and who claims he knows me, and to a point of even identifying me.
However, the police refused to give me the description of the man he gave or if he provided one. And for the record, I don’t own a firearm and don’t know how to use or handle one, as I have never met the complainant or recall meeting him.
Crucially, I have never had any direct confrontation with any “illegal settler” including the one who is falsely claiming that I threatened him.
The complaint not only comes as he admits that he is an illegal settler on Leopard Rock land, but the police “are only too happy to question me as opposed to arresting those trespassers with an eviction order on their heads”.
Curiously, the rural police are giving priority to hearsay from those in flagrant violation of the law, which has resulted in the destruction of Vumba’s forests and the unique flora, and fauna in this beautiful part of the world. Further, your reporter did not even bother with the basics about Leopard Rock’s ownership.
Cambria Africa plc sold Leopard Rock to Ventures Africa Limited in 2014 and the hotel is 75 percent owned by Lyons Africa BV, a Netherlands Company — and I am the executive director of hotel.
As I conclude, I would like to appeal to and urge the media against irresponsible, and uninformed journalism as it hurts people.
In another vein, it creates “alarm and despondency by validating false, and uncorroborated allegations”.
Samir Shasha, (Executive director)