The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism and the South African Police Service (SAPS) Mpumalanga, have successfully implemented the Joint Provincial Tourism Safety Forum that has shown tangible results.
Spokesperson of SAPS Mpumalanga, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, said in a press statement that the collaboration between these organisations and the task team that was subsequently established had produced information that led to the identification of two kingpins and warrants of arrest had been issued.
The Joint Provisional Tourism Safety Forum was launched in December by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, and a joint operations centre was established in Hazyview. Sixty additional officers under the command of Brigadier Prince Ngobeni were allocated to a tourism safety task team, which is in operation until March.
The Joint Tourism Safety Steering Committee includes various law-enforcement agencies as well as the regional tourism organisations in the province.
Senior Manager of Communications, Kholofelo Nkambule, told Tourism Update that Graskop, Hazyview, White River and Sabie had been identified as the most common hotspots, with several incidents have occurred in the last six months.
An action plan, based on the identification of a common modus operandi, has been developed and integrated into the overall tourism safety plans.
“Criminals are using rented vehicles and target self-drive tourists. It becomes difficult to know who these tourists are as they collected rented cars and proceed with their trips,” said Nkambule.
“We are now engaging car-rental companies at the national level through the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association to check whether there is a leak through their branches. Furthermore, the police are using crime intelligence sourced from outside the province in order to prevent the leaking of information.”
There are a number of victim support programmes that are being supported by the MTPA and other tourism and security stakeholders, such as the White River Victim Support Group and the Kruger Lowveld Tourism Victim Support Programme.