South Africa

CONSEQUENCES OF CRIME

Murder of German tourist near Kruger National Park bodes ill for SA’s tourism market

Murder of German tourist near Kruger National Park bodes ill for SA’s tourism market
The bullet-riddled car in which German tourist Jörg Schnarr was shot and killed near the Kruger National Park on Monday, 3 October. (Photo: Supplied)

The murder of German tourist Jörg Schnarr near the Kruger National Park on Monday has been widely reported in the German media — undoubtedly doing some damage to South Africa’s third-largest tourism market.

“German killed: How safe are tourists in South Africa?” Zeit Online asked in the headline to its story about the murder of German tourist Jörg Schnarr near the Kruger National Park on Monday.  

But Germany’s ambassador to South Africa, Andreas Peschke, has praised Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the government for their “exemplary” response. 

Sisulu and her officials spent much of Wednesday meeting, consoling and helping Schnarr’s widow and the two other German tourists who were with her in a hired car when her 75-year-old husband was fatally shot near the Numbi Gate to the Kruger National Park.

Sisulu confirmed that three men had been arrested for questioning about the murder and suggested that the R50,000 reward offered by the local tourism authority may therefore have paid off. 

Peschke said at a joint press conference with Sisulu on Wednesday evening that the South African government’s response to the fatal shooting could help mitigate any negative impact on tourism. He said that his government had not revised its advice to German travellers to South Africa but added that he was still reporting back to Berlin on the incident. 

He said he would include in his reporting, “the responsibility taken by the government for this tragic incident, which is quite exemplary”.

Peschke noted that in his experience it was “not so usual” for the competent minister and her team to have spent so much time with the widow and friends of the man who died, offering support and arranging for their swift return to Germany and to their families. He also expressed condolences to Schnarr’s widow, wider family and to her two other companions. 

He noted that the incident had occurred after a sharp increase in tourism from Germany, following two missed years caused by Covid. In response, Germany had just decided to lay on a new flight to Mbombela (Nelspruit) in Mpumalanga. This arrangement would still go ahead, he noted. 

Sisulu said Schnarr’s widow and the two other members of the party took a flight back to Germany on Wednesday. The government had arranged for an accelerated autopsy and embalming of Schnarr’s body, and had hired an aircraft for it to be taken to Johannesburg. The aim had been to return Schnarr to Germany on the same flight as his widow. But the requirements of the German authorities had prevented that, so it would be flown to Germany on Thursday. 

Sisulu said the government had also organised for a doctor to attend to Schnarr’s widow to help her deal with the traumatic flight home. 

“I would like to again convey my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the tourist who was killed in this incident,” Sisulu said. 

She added that the survivors of the shooting, who were still visibly traumatised, had “indicated that this was an isolated incident that could have happened to anyone and that all countries are dealing with some level of criminality”. 

“The tourists also expressed their love for South Africa and its beauty.”


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She nevertheless insisted that: “The attack of tourists is not a daily occurrence in the country and South Africa is a safe destination.”  

Sisulu claimed that only three foreign tourists had been killed in South Africa since 1994.  The murder of Anni Dewani, had been an organised hit – her husband Shrien was charged but later acquitted,  another death had been accidental and only Schnarr’s death could be attributed to the general environment of crime.

Asked by a journalist how she could guarantee tourist safety in an environment where murder statistics were rising, she said this was because it was her responsibility as tourism minister to ensure tourists were safe. 

“We encourage people from all over the world to visit South Africa and we tell them that it’s safe. But we need to live up to that promise.” 

Sisulu noted that she had been criticised for all the attention which she and her government were giving to this one murder of a foreign tourist when so many South Africans were being murdered every day.

But she insisted that as tourism minister it was her duty to protect the tourism industry, which contributed 3.7% to GDP, while it was Police Minister Bheki Cele’s responsibility to deal with crime more generally. 

Sisulu said she and other relevant ministers were taking measures to ensure that the incident was not repeated. She mentioned specifically that either the road to Numbi Gate would be improved or a new route to the gate would be introduced. She said locals had built humps in the road to slow down traffic, which had enabled the killer and his accomplices to block the German tourists’ car. 

Sisulu also revealed that Schnarr’s widow was upset by the way the German media had reported the incident. They had named her husband as the victim before she had had a chance to inform their children in Germany. This had aggravated their trauma, Sisulu said.

And Sisulu said Schnarr’s widow had also complained about how German media had described the events leading to the shooting of her husband. It seemed she was objecting to the fact that the media reported that when the assailants had blocked the car with their own vehicle and one had approached the driver’s window, her husband had locked the car doors and this had provoked the man to fire the fatal shot.

Instead, Schnarr’s widow said in a statement read out at the press conference, the car doors had locked automatically before the incident. And that it was in fact just when her husband unlocked his door that the fatal shot was fired.

Schnarr then slumped to the left with his foot on the accelerator and the car reversed for about 100m before crashing into a wall and a water tank. She said the assailants followed the car with the intention of carrying out their crime and it was only when the owner of the water tank into which the car crashed emerged from his house that the assailants fled. DM

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  • Jagdish Makan says:

    Criminals take advantage of hiding in the informal settlements that have mushroomed along the road to Numbi Gate. This gate has to be closed as the authorities cannot police this route. Unsuspecting tourists are not aware of the dangers and are easy targets for these heartless criminals. Sure, we have socio-economic conditions in these settlements, but does that mean that tourists have to be attacked and killed? Some South Africans have lost their moral compass.

  • Erma Gardner says:

    I’m ashamed and exasperated by this terrible event. True condolences to all involved.

  • Peter Doble says:

    It may be isolated and it is certainly a tragedy especially for the family. But this type of criminal violence is happening across South Africa on the roads, at tourist locations and definitely in overcrowded settlements. The truth is that government has lost all control. It thinks and acts in boxes rather than cohesive planning. It has no solutions.
    I lived and worked in this area for many years. All the warning signs were there and constantly flagged to the relevant authorities. But nothing significant was done nor will it be. Tourism, domestic and international, is treated as a trivial cash cow. It will further decline and eventually fail as will the economy and the country as a whole.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    Its truly sad that an ordinary South Africans life is less important than that of a foreigner. Nobody in government jumps up and down in support of our locals. We have a useless police force and I can bet most murderers don’t face justice in South Africa. Our ANC run to the aid of this mans family (Obviously a tragic murder), But just imagine if the wheels of policing and justice could turn so swiftly for the average South African.

  • Gerrie Butler says:

    Did he really call her “the competent minister”? How? How on earth? Surely even diplomats must abide by some code.

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    “Sisulu claimed that only three foreign tourists had been killed in South Africa since 1994.”

    Surely this is a lie!

  • Hippo Zourides says:

    This route has been dangerous for years now, and as a guide I recommend to all my guests and visitors to avoid Numbi as an entrance gate. Rather travel further to Phabeni or Paul Kruger or even to Malelane for a safe entry into KNP.
    In fact, I recommend that SANParks closes down Numbi gate and get Google, Waze and other mapping apps as well as car hire companies to advise self-driving tourists to use oyher enrance gates.

    • Jagdish Makan says:

      I agree, there must be consequences, not only lip service by politicians. First consequence is the closure of Numbi gate.
      All navigation and car hire companies, tour operators, hotels etc. must advise those visiting the KNP not to use Numbi gate.
      The economic crunch must be felt by the communities around Numbi gate so that they can mobilise against the criminals in their midst. KNP authorities would be compelled to pressurise both Government and SAPS to take proactive steps to curb or at least minimise crime in the area and all areas leading to KNP.
      If the victim were a South African, a one line, if at all, would have appeared in the daily papers. We have become immune to acts of violence and criminality.
      Crime and corruption is endemic. Unemployment is a national crisis.
      We are sadly a failed state.

  • Christopher Campbell says:

    There are a number of problems that have existed for a long time that haven’t been addressed and may have prevented this murder.
    First, it has been well known that this area has been dangerous for some time but there has been no focus by the authorities on addressing it. Cele always turns up at these kind of incidents after the event and says that they must address the problem – useless! Action needs to be taken before these evens. Local lives are the same as tourists’ lives and should be treated as a total instead of categorising them into different boxes.
    Secondly, the Car Hire companies should be warning renters about known dangerous areas and how to avoid them.
    Thirdly, GPS navigational companies like Garmin, TomTom and Waze need to update there programs to show dangerous areas and advise with alternative routes to avoid them. This is true of their routes in other countries and not only South Africa. They also need to update their mapping more frequently. There are new major roads that have existed for a number of years that have still not been added to their maps.
    And lastly, the Minister for Tourism needs to be properly advised about numbers before she spouts about how few tourists have been killed in South Africa. Truth will out.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    Babeta Deokran, a patriot who served the country with distinction and ultimately paid with her life for fighting corruption her family was not visited by the pick and pay general called Cele who is has a corrupt finding against him by Thuli Madonsela. Yet he see fit to visit the scene and again says a lot of poppycock as usual. The lawlessness that engulfs the country is not affecting tourists only but citizens who are shot in taverns and the taxi violence that is all over the country including gangsterism points to a Police Minister and Commissioner without a clue. Yet the President for political reasons supports the clown called Cele. It is no secret that the ANC is the source of crime and criminality in many instances. This is part of the reasons that the issue of crime seems intractable. You have the Hawks, NPA and SIU having political influence and shielding some of the criminals. When Makhura used to speak about referring matters to the SIU yet he had no powers to do so or issue a proclamation and that was telling me that the SIU is corrupt! The crisis of violent crimes must not be given excuses as well as police incompetence. It is time Cele is moved to head parliamentary security.

  • Gregory Scott says:

    How sad is this barbaric act?
    What has the action of this criminal cost us all? Can it be measured?
    How many murders are there in South Africa every day?
    According to Google’s reference to the businesstech website, there are 71 people murdered EVERY day. As long as there is little or no consequence for committing a crime with a firearm, criminals will continue to take the life of others without blinking.
    Committing a crime with a firearm shows intent to use the firearm. If the crime results in the death of the victim the harshest punishment, an eye for an eye, should be available to the judiciary or alternatively a lifetime of hard labour breaking rocks until the end of days.
    Put another way, 26 000 people are murdered in South Africa every year. Should the alarm bells be ringing? Do South African lives matter?
    We lock down an entire nation for longer than a year during Covid 19 which cost 102 000 lives and a devastated economy, except of course for the PPE tenderpreneurs……..
    Makes you realise that government does not care about the loss of innocent South Africans due to crime. Yip, easier to chase a citizen down the beach or hurl stun grenades at surfers…….
    Enough is enough

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Actually South Africans are hypersensitive about tourism. Tourists have short memories and have become immune to random events such as this. They are more concerned with the weather and the value of their currency to the Rand.

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