A massive manhunt has been launched by police in Phalaborwa for three suspects following the robbery of tourists at a private plot in Silonque on Thursday.
The suspects allegedly entered the premises at Silonque plot and held nine tourists at gunpoint and robbed them of valuables, including a laptop, 10 cellphones, jewellery and more than R5,000 in cash.
The suspects fled the scene, using the victims’ rented Mercedes Benz ML which was later found abandoned in bushes next to Silonque main road, about 10km away.
Limpopo Tourism Agency chief executive officer Sonto Ndlovu said any attack on tourists took the province back on the strides made with the security cluster in ensuring that all tourists were safe when they visited Limpopo.
“We were shocked by the attack. The dispossession and threat to their lives are unacceptable,” said Ndlovu. Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha also condemned the attack.
“Limpopo is a safe province with friendly and warm people, hence it is a preferred tourist destination.
We will not allow criminals to change that,” he said.
According to a Facebook post by Far North Bulletin, the group of tourists that were robbed were not all from Australia, with some from Johannesburg and a 16-year-old girl visiting her mom from Israel, where she is believed to be living with her father.
The publication further stated that the girl and her mother who were on the patio outside were forced by the robbers to join the rest of the group inside the house and the girl was reportedly raped. This was denied by the police.
The national commissioner of police, General Khehla Sitole, has been briefed by the provincial commissioner of Limpopo, Lieutenant-General Nneke Ledwaba, who has mobilised the 72-hour activation plan by assembling a team of investigators to track down the suspects.
Earlier this month the national commissioner of police and the director-general of tourism entered into a memorandum of understanding between the two departments to decisively deal with crime against tourists.
“Among the pledges made was increased police visibility as well as to train the existing tourist monitors as police reservists,” said General Sitole.
According to the national department of tourism, a joint tourism safety plan was put in place at the beginning of the festive season to provide proactive preventative measures to potential incidents and to provide an aftercare programme that focused on measures to facilitate and provide victim support after an incident had occurred.
Anyone that has any information about the suspects must contact the SAPS Crime Stop number 086-00-10111 or information may be provided via the MySAPSApp.