A German tourist was shot dead in broad daylight when his car was ambushed by an armed gang on the first day of his holiday with friends in South Africa.
South African police launched a manhunt for the assailants in the wake of the shooting that took place on Monday afternoon near Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga province.
Tourists' Vehicle Ambushed on the Way to Kruger
The German tourist was driving with three passengers - his wife and another German couple when their vehicle was attacked near the Numbi Gate of Kruger Park.
The group had just flown in from Germany to Johannesburg and were making the 250-mile drive to the Mdluli Lodge for a safari holiday. The Mdluli Lodge is just inside the Kruger National Park's Numbi Gate and they were just 25 miles away from its safety when they were ambushed at 4.30pm.
A VW Caddy pulled in front of their Hyundai Staria and three men believed to be in camouflage gear jumped out with guns demanding that the German tourist open the door. When the driver hit a button centrally locking all four doors it is believed the ringleader fired at least one shot through the window into the driver.
He had already put the car into reverse and then sped backwards 100 yards crashing into a school wall as the panicking gunmen made their getaway. The gang members sped away without taking any belongings from the tourists.
Tragically, the driver had been so badly shot in the upper body his partner and friends could do nothing for him and he died almost instantly at the scene. Police have identified at least three "people of interest" in connection to the shooting and they are currently in police custody.
Concerns About South African Tourism
The survivors are now receiving support from the German embassy. "Concerning the tragic incident involving the death of a German tourist in Mpumalanga, the embassy is in close contact with the South African authorities. Our consular team is providing consular assistance," the embassy said in a statement.
The Numbi gate has become a notorious spot for robbers who wait for tourist vehicles to slow down at one of the speed bumps in order to ambush them. Earlier this year, four tourists visiting Kruger National Park were allegedly robbed by four armed men after exiting the Park via the Numbi Gate, as reported by Getaway.
The German tourist's killing has sparked concerns about South Africa's tourism, of which Kruger National Park and the country's wildlife reserves are a significant part. The government condemned the killing, maintaining that South Africa is still a safe travel destination.
South Africa's tourism minister Lindiwe Sisuslu on Tuesday condemned the attack. "I also call on law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in bringing to book the perpetrators of this heinous crime," said Sisulu.
She lamented that such crime hinders the country's tourism industry. "This high number of tourists is one of the ways in which our tourism sector has been able to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.