Living up to executive director Dr Bandile Mkhize’s promise that guests breaking the laws of the Kruger National Park (KNP) would be shown no mercy, in just two weeks over the peak holiday period in late December over 320 fines were issued in the park.
Over 80 percent of the fines were for speeding. According to Raymond Travers, media spokesperson for the KNP, the majority of the drivers with a heavy foot were doing about 70-80km/hr when they were caught.
However, one driver in a Gauteng registered BMW appeared to be going for a land speed record, doing 140km/hr between Skukuza and Paul Kruger gate with a fine disregard for any wildlife or other traffic on the road.
Speeding fines vary from R100 to an immediate court appearance. Other traffic-related fines issued include driving without a valid driver’s licence, getting out of or protruding from a vehicle and travelling with the vehicle’s doors open.
Playing loud music out of cars also resulted in a few fines, mostly at picnic sites but also on the road. A few people were also fined R400 for trespassing in the park (being inside the park without a permit).
Travers says that in the areas of the park where a lot of people live near the park’s boundary, such as in Phalaborwa, Punda Maria, Malelane and Komatipoort, members of the public exercise some ingenuity in getting into the park without paying. These people can be caught at routine roadblocks or when they break one of the park’s other laws.
Fines were also issued for failing to declare a weapon on entering the park. Some of the transgressors were reported to park authorities via Kruger’s 24 hour emergency call centre (013 735 4325), which also took calls about car accidents and lost children.
While the police that are stationed in the park are mainly responsible for issuing fines, especially speeding fines, all of the section rangers and many of the other field rangers are appointed as protected area law enforcement officers.
This increases the number of eagle eyes that can spot wrongdoers and issue fines for offences committed in the park, including hunting/poaching, damaging trees or plants, feeding animals, driving on no entry roads and littering.