Sisulu ‘sets record straight’ on potential temporary Numbi Gate closure
A suggestion was made to close Numbi Gate, the contentious Kruger Park entrance, after a spate of crime.
Numbi Gate near the Kruger National Park. Calls to close the gate are reportedly being considered. Photo for illustration: Lowvelder
The closure of Numbi Gate near the Kruger National Park (KNP), although being considered, has not taken place.
The entrance into the KNP that has been plagued by crime incidents was the site of the fatal shooting of German tourist Jörg Schnarr last week.
Schnarr, his wife Vera, Reiner Nuchter and his wife Andrea were travelling to Mdluli Safari Lodge when they were attacked by a group of criminals. Schnarr was killed during the botched hijacking.
Decision to be ‘considered’
Department of Tourism Minster Lindiwe Sisulu has sought to clarify the closure of the gate, after Democratic Alliance National Council of Provinces member Tim Brauteseth suggested during a Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour briefing that it be closed temporarily.
Sisulu said Brauteseth’s suggestion would be considered.
“At no stage did Minsiter Sisulu say that the Numbi Gate would be closed,” the department’s statement read.
“One life lost is one life too many. Every tourist whether they’re a local or an international visitor must feel safe to enjoy their holidays in our country and government is working with our local communities and tourism stakeholders to protect our tourists and support the tourism sector,” Sisulu said of the attack.
She said a number of other government departments, including police, social development, justice and the National Prosecuting Authority were briefed to work with the department on tourist safety.
Numbi Road crime
The incident is the latest in a spate of crime plaguing Numbi Road.
Community members in the area told Lowvelder at least three other robberies occurred just hours before the fatal attack on the German tourists.
Calls are also mounting to close Numbi Gate into the KNP on social media, with a number of damning posts on the South African National Parks (SANParks) Kruger Facebook page.
And there are fears that tourism in the area would take a knock.
The department said it would be monitoring any cancellations after the incident.
The US embassy in South Africa on Wednesday issued a security alert to US citizens to avoid using Numbi Gate, and to use either the Paul Kruger or the Phabeni gate when entering or leaving the park instead.
The three people who were taken in for questioning last Wednesday following Schnarr’s murder have since been let go, and another person taken in for questioning.
In January, a single mother and her two children were attacked by robbers during a hijacking attempt.
The attack saw at least R1 million lost after tourists cancelled bookings, Lowvelder reported.
Compiled by Nica Richards. Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde and Lowvelder.