South African National Parks (Sanparks) management reacted positively to the result of a case at the Makhado (Louis Trichardt) Magistrates' Court on Friday May 26, 2006 after an incident in Mapungubwe National Park where a guest verbally abused a Sanparks ranger.
"We welcome this decision as it is important that our rangers are not only recognised but respected for their role in the conservation of South Africa's rich natural heritage," said Sanparks chief executive Dr David Mabunda. The accused, Pieter Hermanus Haasbroek (44) from Germiston, Gauteng, paid an admission of guilt fine of R2 000 after being questioned by the prosecutor on charges, which included crimen injuria and exiting a national park via an unauthorised gate.
According to testimony from Sanparks criminal investigation service (CIS), Mapungubwe National Park section ranger Howard Mthathi and Haasbroek had an altercation with resulted in Haasboek verbally abusing Mthathi. Mthathi identified himself with his environmental management inspector (EMI) card and appointment letter but Haasbroek chose to ignore him and threaten him with teargas spray. The verbal insults continued until Haasbroek drove away.
On reaching a staff entrance gate, Mthathi found Haasbroek's vehicle right behind his and felt his vehicle was being pushed forward. Again Haasbroek verbally assaulted the ranger and threatened him with teargas spray, before departing the park and heading towards Musina. Mthathi then reported the incident to the Pontdrift Police Station where charges were laid against Haasbroek.
"It is important that the public realise that our rangers are the law in their respective parks and if they give an instruction or order, the public should adhere to their wishes as these are in the best interests of the integrity of the area under their control," concluded Dr Mabunda. Mapungubwe National Park is situated in the far north of Limpopo Province and is a World Heritage Site.
Speaking at the national council of provinces budget debate, environmental affairs minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said that South Africa will be donating R38.4 million over the next five years to the Global Environment Facility (GEF). South Africa will be hosting the GEF annual assembly later this year, and was chosen by GEF to host the International Waters Conference next year.
Van Schalkwyk says they hope to use their funding of the GEF to help resource allocation in African countries. He also announced that R185 million has been earmarked by the department for investment into the Tourism Enterprise Programme to help support smaller tourism businesses.
This is expected to help more than 2,000 enterprises (75 percent black economic empowerment), educate more than 20,000 SMME tourism trainees, train about 840 government officials, and add at least 1,000 SMMEs to a 2010 suppliers database. He also spoke of a R20 million equity fund designed to support small amd medium sized wheel and tour operators.
A national body of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) practitioners is expected to register with the department of environmental affairs by April next year, "the result of which will be firm self-regulation and an industry-wide improvement of EIA standards" announced minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk during the speech. He added that his department will be increasing the size of their Environmental Impact Assessment unit to help drive the new EIA regulations.