One week after the deadly crash involving a speeding minibus taxi, a giraffe calf and Swiss tourists in an SUV in the Kruger National Park (KNP) last month, the park decided to recalibrate their speed cameras, and 50 people were subsequently arrested.
Isaac Phaahla, the KNP spokesperson, told Lowvelder that those who were arrested were in fact local residents, and not taxi drivers. Phaahla also said that the park had now been given the authority to issue fines to those transgressing speed limits in the park.
Despite this, a petition has been started, calling for the banning of taxis in the park. The petition, launched on change.org by Freedy Cook, garnered over 37,500 signatures in one week.
“Many people have reported speeding taxis in the KNP. This is not an isolated incident. With the death of a Swiss tourist, maybe the world will now take notice,” Cook wrote in the petition.
A minibus taxi hit a giraffe in the park, causing it to fall onto a rental vehicle, injuring two Swiss tourists on November 10. One of the tourists, Roland Koller, died as a result of the crash. The incident occurred before midday between the Mopani and Shingwedzi rest camps, Phaahla said.
The taxi driver could not avoid the giraffe, which was crossing the road and struck the animal, killing it on impact. There were 13 passengers in the taxi.
In an interview with eNCA on Saturday, Phaahla described the signatories as, “opportunistic, as we live in a very unequal society where we cannot make this park exclusive for those who are much more privileged”.
He confirmed to the Lowvelder last week that the petition had not yet been presented to SANParks.
“The issue will be discussed by management, but we cannot go back to a sad state of affairs where people are excluded based on their mode of transport. Communities around the KNP usually utilise minibuses to visit the park, and SANParks cannot suddenly exclude them.
“We are continuously emphasising the precautionary measures which tourists must take, whether they are in minibuses or SUVs.”
He added that increased patrols of accident hotspots will also take place, to prevent further speeding and deaths in the park.
“The ultimate responsibility lies with drivers to behave responsibly,” Phaahla added.
Lowvelder was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach Cook for comment.