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Community alleges suspects in German tourist’s murder linked to other incidents

At least three other robberies occurred just hours before the fatal attack on a group of German tourists outside the Kruger National Park (KNP) on Monday night, community members allege.

The incident resulted in Joerg Schnarr being fatally wounded in an apparent botched hijacking. His wife and a couple they were with survived the attack.

The group were on their way to a lodge near the KNP’s Numbi Gate when they were stopped by three armed suspects.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said the suspects, travelling in a VW Caddy, are said to have instructed the tourists to open the doors to their Hyundai Staria, but when the driver locked the doors, he was shot in the upper body through the window.

“The driver reversed about 100m before crashing into a wall,” Mohlala said.

Community alleges suspects in German tourist's murder linked to other incidents
The German tourists’ Hyundai H1 after an alleged botched hijacking on 3 October 2022. Photo: SAPS

Similar attacks

When Lowvelder visited the crime scene on Numbi Road on Tuesday, residents told them, on condition of anonymity, that similar incidents had occurred in the area since Sunday, the day before the murder.

Lowvelder was told that in the first incident, three occupants of a VW Caddy attempted to rob the driver of a Toyota Fortuner with a Western Cape registration number.

ALSO READ: LISTEN: Attack on Kruger Park tourists tantamount to ‘economic sabotage’

The driver managed to speed away unharmed, but three shots were fired at the vehicle.

In another incident, the occupants of a VW Polo and a Range Rover were robbed in the same area in two separate attacks – again by a VW Caddy. These incidents took place earlier on Monday, before the incident saw Schnarr lose his life.

“The criminals took their items and let them go. They returned on Monday evening to the same spot, and the murder [of the German] was committed. We heard some noise before we heard a gunshot,” claimed one of the community members.

“They first made sure that the security patrol was busy on another area of the road before they attacked. They are also targeting cars that have registration plates from other provinces.”

Residents also claimed that criminals are using the speed bumps on the road, which the community put up themselves, to their advantage.

They said when vehicles slow down when approaching a speed bump, occupants are often attacked.

Incidents not reported

Masoyi police spokesperson Captain Nanikie Nonyane, however, told Lowvelder that none of the abovementioned incidents were officially reported to them.

She urged the community to report any crime or suspicious behaviour immediately, and for tourists to open cases should they face instances of crime.

Nonyane said the station has an active K9 unit designated to the area, which conducts regular patrols.

But residents say that crime would decrease with increased police visibility.

ALSO READ: Police leadership to visit German tourist murder scene

Numbi Gate outcry

Calls are mounting to close Numbi Gate into the KNP, with a number of damning social media posts on the South African National Parks (SANParks) Kruger Facebook page.

“Why is Numbi Gate still open?” asked Simone Swiel on SANParks’ Kruger Facebook page. “Why is there no warning on the SANParks website? How many more tourists are going to be robbed and possibly killed as happened [on Monday]?”

Taryn Keys said the incident was “absolutely shocking”. “So much for the road to Numbi Gate being patrolled. I agree that gate should be closed,” Keys wrote on the page.

Liezl de Jongh claimed even “the locals are demanding it should be closed”, while Rynhardt Ferreira called the failure to close the gate “disgusting”.

“That gate should have been closed ages ago until a solid plan to keep it safe has been drawn up,” Ferreira said.

SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said tourists had been advised to plan their trips carefully, to only make stops at designated areas, such as garages and service stations, to try to travel in convoys and where possible, use alternative gates.

“Paul Kruger and Phabeni gates are fully operational, signposted and can be used as a gateway to other lodges around the KNP,” Phaahla said.

He said SANParks was not considering closing Numbi Gate.

NOW READ: Calls mount for Numbi Gate into Kruger Park to be closed following tourist’s murder

Edited and compiled by Nica Richards.

Parts of this article first appeared on Caxton publication Lowvelder’s website, by Tumelo Waga Dibakwane and Chelsea Pieterse. Read the original article here.

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