Crime in South Africa under spotlight after tragic murder of German tourist in failed hijacking near Kruger – SAPeople

FEDHASA calls for reinforced security measures around Kruger. Image credit: AnnaKate Auten on Unsplash

FEDHASA says it is “deeply shaken” by the tragic loss of life of a German tourist near Kruger National Park yesterday in an attempted hijacking; and called on the government to implement a “national response to tackle the root cause of crime in our country”.

The 67-year-old tourist was driving from Johannesburg airport, en route to enjoy a game drive at a community-owned lodge in the Kruger with his wife and two friends, when three gunmen in a VW caddy swerved in front of their Hyundai and carried out the attack, which ended with the driver being shot in the head, killed at close range.

German tourist killed Kruger
The abandoned Hyunda H1 in which a German tourist was shot and killed yesterday.

On Tuesday, Rosemary Anderson, national chair of SA’s trade and hospitality organization, FEDHASA, said:

“We simply cannot allow this to happen again, and as FEDHASA we are confident that in addition to the rapid mobilization we have seen from SAPS and other stakeholders on the ground to find and bringing the perpetrators to justice, that there will be a real commitment to addressing the root cause so that no family ever has to endure this loss again. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We need a deep, sustained and catalytic national response to address the root cause of crime in our country. If Covid necessitated a state of emergency, then surely the crime pandemic does too.

“We all know what’s wrong. We now need a dramatic response on the ground involving all sectors of government, labour, society, NGOs and religious leaders to end the human suffering and job losses caused by crime, by particularly the latter in our tourism and hospitality sector.

The devastating incident happened around 4.30pm yesterday on the R538 in Mpumalanga, the same province where British celebrity Katie Price recently revealed she was the victim of a horrific carjacking in which she was raped.

The gunmen reportedly demanded “open the doors, open the doors”. The victim refused, apparently locked the doors and started backing up… when a shooter opened fire through a car window. The out of control car then reversed 100 meters and slammed into the wall of a school in the farming village of White Water.

Paramedics and police rushed to the scene, but the driver is believed to have died almost instantly.

South African police have launched a massive manhunt for the three powerful gangs who fled empty-handed.

Tragically, tourists were only 45 minutes from the safety of the Numbi Gate in Kruger National Park, and a further 5 minutes from their tent destination Mdluli Lodge.

German tourist killed Kruger
The observation deck, restaurant and infinity pool of the Mdluli Lodge where the ambushed group of German tourists was heading. Their driver was shot just 30 miles from their destination where guests enjoy watching elephants and lions from the deck or taking a 4×4 jeep safari in Kruger National Park.
German tourist killed Kruger
The German tourists were heading to the Mdluli Safari Lodge just inside the security of the Mundi Gate when they were ambushed in their car and their driver shot dead.

A first responder said: ‘It was a really bad gunshot wound and due to the amount of blood we couldn’t tell initially how many shots it was but he was beyond help.

“The guy’s wife and the other couple were, as you can imagine, hysterical. One minute they were almost in the Kruger on a dream vacation and the next minute this,” he said.

Environment Minister Barbara Creecy condemned the killing and called on “Mpumalanga Police to work tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice”.

The killing of a foreign tourist in South Africa is hurting the country’s attempts to recover from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister’s department has said. Already, international media reports include some of South Africa’s shocking crime statistics, including an average of 67 people murdered per day.

SANParks is working to make the Kruger area safer

SANParks said Numbi Road has been identified as a crime hotspot by the tourism sector and efforts are underway to tackle crime in the area and on the road with increased security patrols and vehicle recognition cameras.

“SANParks is involved in these deliberations and is working with the responsible authorities to try to ensure the safety of tourists on ALL routes leading to KNP and other tourist destinations in the region,” the organization said in a statement today. today.

“Tourists are advised to plan their trips carefully, only stop at designated areas such as garages and petrol stations, try to travel in convoys and, if possible, use alternative gates . Paul Kruger and Phabeni Gates are fully operational and signposted and can be used as a gateway to other lodges around KNP.”

KNP spokesman Ike Phaahla said on Tuesday:

“Our thoughts are with the family as they process this senseless and tragic loss. We are deeply saddened by the escalating crime and violence to this terrible end, which not only threatens the lives of our visitors, but also the livelihoods of people living around our parks.This is a huge setback for the tourism sector and for the country.

“We have worked with the Lowveld Chamber of Commerce and the National Department of Tourism to promote and market tourism products to our overseas customers and this latest criminal act undermines our efforts to restore the sector to pre-covid times.

“Tourism is a huge employer in a region with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We are confident that law enforcement will apprehend these heinous criminals and hunt them down. »

Safari lodge employs community members

The safari lodge the four tourists had been to, Mdluli Lodge, opened to the public shortly before international travel was banned to stem the spread of the pandemic. This employs 200 local community members covering 95% of the workforce. These men and women are also part of a skills development program.

“The murder of the tourist will undermine our program to get tourism and job creation back on track as we emerge from the pandemic,” Minister Creecy said.

The German tourists had booked into two luxury tents from £289 each per night in the exclusive community-owned accommodation that overlooks Kruger National Park for exceptional game viewing.

Daily 4×4 safari jeeps take guests out to enjoy wildlife including the Big 5 of elephants, lions, buffaloes, leopards and rhinos in South Africa’s largest nature reserve .

Police spokesman Brigadier Selvy Mohala confirmed yesterday: “Four German tourists were arrested by three armed suspects who ordered them to open the gates on the Kruger Road. The driver allegedly locked all the doors and one of the suspects shot him in the upper body through the window as the driver was reversing, and unfortunately the shot was fatal.

“The vehicle reversed about 100 meters and crashed into a school wall and the suspects sped into their car without taking anything from them; and we will hunt them down”.

German tourist killed Kruger
The abandoned Hyunda H1 in which a German tourist was shot dead yesterday as their party of four traveled to Kruger National Park in South Africa for a dream vacation safari.

Mpumalanga Provincial Police Commander, Lt Gen Semakeleng Manamela has condemned the cowardly attack which will shake the slowly recovering tourism industry.

She said: “This attack on a group of tourists was cruel and unwarranted, especially given the economic challenges our country is currently facing. When you have tourists, it’s the tourism sector that benefits in a way that gives our struggling economy the boost it needs.

German tourist killed Kruger
Mpmumalanga Provincial Commissioner of Police Lieutenant General Semakeleng Manamela

Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism are offering a reward of R50,000 to obtain information that will allow the perpetrators of the crime to be successfully prosecuted.

South Africa considered ‘one of the most dangerous places’

International media reports cite South Africa as one of the most dangerous places in the world with 67 murders per day and 115 rapes reported, but murders of tourists are rare.

For Germans though, just two years ago German restaurateur Eduard Neumeister, 67, was brutally killed at his restaurant, the Bratwurst Sausage Restaurant in Balgowan, an hour from Durban.

German tourist killed Kruger
Murdered German restaurateur Eduard Neumeister, 67, who was killed as he opened for breakfast in 2020 in Balgowan north of Durban.

Last month, famous British model Katie Price, 44, recalled how her convoy of two 4x4s was ambushed by six gunmen in 2018 as they drove from Joburg to eSwatini.

Katie revealed that despite being in the vehicle with her two terrified children, she was dragged and raped while their vehicles were stolen by the gang.

The mother-of-seven was part of a film crew and traveled from South Africa to former Swaziland while making a documentary on the wall about her “crazy” celebrity lifestyle.

The former glamor model said she feared for her life during the attack, just outside Ermelo after her convoy stopped at a remote rest area because one of her children had need to go to the toilet. After the gang stole jewelry, money, phones and computers from them, they threw the two sets of car keys into the undergrowth and fled into the dark of night in a car leak.

Police closed the case several months later without finding the gang, and it wasn’t until September this year that Katire first revealed – for a TV documentary that has yet to air – that she had been raped.

German tourist killed Kruger
One of the £285 a night luxury tented villas on Mdluli Lodge where German tourists were to stay for their holiday in Kruger National Park
German tourist killed Kruger
German tourists were only 25 miles from the Numbi Gate and within the safety of Kruger National Park.

If you have seen or know anything, please call the Crime Stop number on 08600 10111 or send information via MYSAPSAPP. All information received will be treated confidentially and callers can choose to remain anonymous.

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James R. Rhodes