Tourist tragedy: No trip cancellations by German travellers after Numbi murder - Lindiwe Sisulu

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Lindiwe Sisulu and members of her department hold a press briefing.
Lindiwe Sisulu and members of her department hold a press briefing.
PHOTO: Cebelihle Bhengu/News24
  • No German tourists have cancelled their planned trips to South Africa after a German man was murdered in Mpumalanga on Monday.
  • Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu met the man's widow at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday.
  • She said it was an isolated incident and that her department took tourist safety seriously.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says there haven't been cancellations by German tourists who had booked trips to South Africa following the murder of a German visitor on Monday.

Sisulu briefed the media on Wednesday about her department's response to the incident, which claimed the life of a 67-year-old German tourist. He was shot dead in Numbi, Mpumalanga.

The man and three other tourists, including his wife, were ambushed by three armed men near the Kruger National Park.

"There hasn't been anybody who has pulled out of their trips. We wanted to have a press conference to show everyone that we are on top of the situation and that we are looking into our hotels to increase the safety of our tourists," Sisulu said.

The minister and tourism stakeholders met the three other tourists, who asked not to be identified, at OR Tambo International Airport.

Sisulu tried hard to allay concerns about the safety of tourists and assured them that South Africa was safe for travellers.

She said the incident was isolated, claiming that the German man was the third tourist death in the country in 27 years.

"The only murder we have had – the Dewani case (Anni Hindocha's murder) – was a planned hit on the woman, and the other one was an accident in Cape Town," Sisulu said.

Although Sisulu did not say how many tourists were robbed during the same period, she said the government had successfully addressed their robbery complaints in the past.

She said:

A few years ago, tourists would complain that they were followed from Johannesburg airport and robbed along the way to their hotel. The former minister looked into this matter, and we ensured that everyone who comes into the airport is followed through and warned about the possibility of being followed.

German Ambassador Andreas Peschke commended the government's swift response and acknowledgment of its responsibility to ensure tourist safety.

He said Germany was one of South Africa's biggest tourism markets, and efforts to attract more visitors from that country would continue.

"[Germany] is the third largest tourism market for South Africa... We still plan to bring a direct flight from Germany to Mbombela (in Mpumalanga) to increase the possibilities of exploring this beautiful country... We have the impression that the government is fully aware of the situation and is taking the necessary steps. We are ready to cooperate," he said.

The three German tourists who survived Monday's incident flew back home on Wednesday after arriving in the country on 20 September.

WATCH | Killed on holiday in SA: Wife held murdered German tourist in his final moments

According to the tourism department, they spent their first five nights in Cape Town, and the next four nights in Durban. They then travelled to the Drakensberg, where they stayed for two nights.

They were driving to their accommodation in the Kruger National Park when they encountered the armed men on Monday.

Sisulu said the tourist's body would be repatriated to Germany on Thursday. His wife had asked to travel with it on Wednesday, but this was not possible.

"We hired a plane from Mpumalanga because we intended that the wife should take the body back home. She had wanted to take the body home because she wanted to arrive with her husband so that her children were assured that he was finally back home, but this could not happen because of the German immigration requirements. We will be here at the airport tomorrow (Thursday) to ensure there is a good send-off of the body back home."

While police indicated in a statement on Wednesday evening that three people had been taken in for questioning in connection with the murder, Sisulu indicated that Police Minister Bheki Cele said the suspects had been arrested.

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