Tsitsikamma residents 'shocked' by tourist's rape

Port Elizabeth - Residents of the Garden Route have expressed their shock after the rape of an American tourist in the Tsitsikamma National Park on Sunday.

"The Tsitsikamma is usually so calm and people flock here just to have a break from their problems. This makes me realise that nobody is actually safe anywhere now. We are shocked, to say the least," resident Jackie Muller told Netwerk24.

The 47-year-old American teacher was jogging along a popular hiking trail at about midday on Sunday when two men, aged 25 and 26, allegedly overpowered her and dragged her into bushes before raping her.

After the attackers - believed to be illegal fishermen - fled, the woman rushed to the resort adjoining the park where she was staying to get help. Storms River police were called and immediately launched a search for the men. Sniffer dogs and special sperm-sniffing dogs were used to scour the crime scene.

The woman's accurate description of the men's identical tattoo marks led to their arrest later on Sunday.

After receiving treatment at a local hospital, the woman returned to Gauteng, where she is currently teaching.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Gerda Swart said a rape case is being investigated, and that no new clues have been found.

The men will appear in the Storms River Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, SANParks said it has no plans to tighten security after the incident.

"We have rangers patrolling the park every day," said SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakuli said.

It remains unclear if the two suspects were poaching in the park.

"We cannot speculate whether the suspects were illegal fishermen, but poaching in any marine protected area is a major problem. Those who are guilty often do so out of ignorance of the park rules. Therefore we will continue with our awareness campaigns," said Thakuli.

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