Avatar photo

By Citizen Reporter


Kruger Park region loses R1m after horror hijacking attempt

Since the attack outside the park on 3 January, at least R1 million in revenue has been lost, with tourists cancelling bookings. 

Despite concerted efforts to catch suspects involved in a hijacking attempt on a single mother and her two children, which left one shot and hospitalised, tourism in the Kruger National Park (KNP) Numbi Gate region has taken a knock. 

Lowvelder reports that since the attack on 3 January, at least R1 million in revenue has been lost, with tourists cancelling bookings. 

This was confirmed to the publication by Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT) head Linda Grimbeek, after a meeting with Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela regarding the incident. 

Melani de Beer and her two children, Miah (14) and Marnu (11), were on the way to their Pretoria home after holidaying at the Pretoriuskop rest camp in the KNP when they were attacked by two armed men near a taxi rank at Mganduzweni Trust on the R538. 

Teen shot in hijacking attempt outside Kruger Park released from hospital
At least 12 shots were fired at the family’s car after a holiday in the Kruger Park. Photos: Facebook

ALSO READ: Teen shot in hijacking attempt outside Kruger Park released from hospital

The men opened fire on de Beer’s SUV and trailer, with de Beer saying police told her about 12 shots were fired at her vehicle. 

Miah was shot in the leg in two places, and underwent surgery, only being released from hospital last weekend. 

Grimbeek assured that a “massive manhunt” had been launched to nab the suspects involved in the botched hijacking.

“I can confirm that police are doing everything in their power to find the suspects. The new commissioner is dedicated and driven. 

“This is the best reaction from police I have ever seen in my life,” Grimbeek told Lowvelder

No one has been arrested so far, and Grimbeek was unable to go into detail regarding the meeting she had with Manamela. 

Police have opened attempted murder and attempted hijacking charges. 

Acting South African National Parks CEO Dumisani Dlamini has said in a statement that provincial security officials in the province are regularly patrolling all routes to the park. 

ALSO READ: Omicron empties SA safari lodges

“We urge responsible community members to be active in protecting tourists visiting the province as tourism is key to boosting rural economic activity,” Dlamini said.

Grimbeek said the amount of tour operators who called her confirming cancellations was overwhelming. 

She said there was even a tour group from England that had travelled throughout Africa that cancelled the South African leg of their travels after the incident. 

Grateful but traumatised 

An emotional de Beer told Lowvelder that had she not pushed Miah, who was sitting in the passenger seat, down, and drove off despite the hail of bullets, her injuries would likely have been worse. 

“They would possibly have shot her in the neck, shoulders or back,” de Beer said as she recounted the attack. 

She said a bullet missed Marnu’s feet by millimetres. 

To ease the blow of the traumatic incident slightly, de Beer said Lowveld residents provided her and Marnu with free accommodation and meals, and ensured that her damaged vehicle arrived safely in Pretoria.

Kruger Park loses R1m after horror hijacking attempt
Melani de Beer standing next to her vehicles. Photo: Lowvelder

“There are so many people who I need to thank. They really took us in as if we were their own people.” 

She said the incident was “unnecessary”, and lamented that “our country is in a mess and we need tourism so much.” 

NOW READ: UPDATE: Cheetah run over in Kruger Park was part of well-known brotherly duo

Translated from Afrikaans by Nica Richards.

This article first appeared on Caxton publication Lowvelder’s website, by Andrea van Wyk. Read the original article here.

Read more on these topics

hijacking Kruger National Park (KNP)

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits