The manager of the Seaview Predator Park in Gqeberha, where a Siberian tiger killed an employee on 16 June, is living in fear after receiving death threats.
The park has also been vandalised.
The manager, who asked not to be named, said she was getting disturbing and terrifying messages from people blaming the park for David Solomon’s death.
Solomon was attacked by an eight-year-old tiger named Jasper while he was repairing its enclosure with colleagues.
He is survived by his wife Margaret and daughter Bulelwa.
After killing Solomon, Jasper jumped into a neighbouring enclosure and killed a male tiger named Judah.
The killer tiger has since been relocated to a big cat facility in the Free State.
The terrified manager said chaotic scenes erupted on Friday when a group of people, who accompanied Solomon’s family to fetch his spirit, allegedly vandalised the park.
She claimed some of the people threatened her and said they would return for the land this week.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said 50 people allegedly attempted to set the fence of the park alight, destroyed information boards and removed the gate.
Naidu added the damage amounted to R12,500.
She said the people who allegedly took part in the incident were not part of Solomon’s family as they were busy with a ritual inside the park at the time.
Naidu added the police were closely monitoring developments and said they would investigate the threats once the manager had made a formal statement.
“It is alleged that on the mentioned date [25 June 2021] at about 11:45, a group of about 50 people, including the family of the deceased, went to the park to fetch his spirit.
“The manager spoke to them and an agreement was reached to allow only immediate family members inside. However, there were some non-family members that had entered as well.
“It is further alleged that on leaving the park, information boards were destroyed, a gate was removed and the unlawful group attempted to set a fence on fire. The estimated damage is R12 500. The group that vandalised these items did not get permission to enter the park.”
The case is under investigation and no arrests have been made thus far.
Naidu said: “At this stage, we are just investigating a case of MITP [malicious injury to property]. However, as the investigation unfolds, an additional charge of intimidation or assault may be added provided that the manager officially makes a statement to the police.
“Police will make frequent patrols in that area, however, should the owners need permanent protection; they will have to engage their private security.”
Threats of vandals returning
The shaken park manager told News24 she received information that a group of people would return this week to burn electricity poles and cut fences.
She said: “This comes from a lady in Seaview who was warned by her gardener and domestic worker. This must be treated as serious as 22 lions and tigers on the loose will pose a major risk.
“Yesterday [Friday], when they were here to fetch David’s spirit, they threatened me and my family and then told us they coming for the land.”
The park manager added Solomon was more than just a colleague to them, he was also a mentor and friend.
“We are very traumatised by what happened and can only now start to process our grief and loss,” she said.