Tourism threat as holidaymakers pelted at Tsitsa Falls

Tourists attacked with rocks while relaxing at the bottom of Tsitsa Waterfalls in Tsolo by locals boys and girls.
Tourists attacked with rocks while relaxing at the bottom of Tsitsa Waterfalls in Tsolo by locals boys and girls.
Image: supplied

A party of holidaymakers was pelted with rocks while relaxing at the bottom of the 100m Tsitsa Falls in Tsolo at the weekend — and for one family it has proved the last straw.

The attack by six youngsters occurred at noon on Saturday, said Eugene Couzyn, a tour guide and the owner of one of two helicopters used to transport the visitors to the picturesque site.

The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) has condemned the incident.

Couzyn said the group of 10 holidaymakers, which included two environmental scientists and four children, were enjoying the scenery when the youths starting throwing “tennis ball size” rocks from the clifftops above. A rock missed tourist Yvonne Corrigan’s head by inches, he said.

Couzyn said they all had to dive for cover as the rocks rained down.

“It was very bad. The youngest child in the tour group was five and the oldest was 15. Had a rock hit them on the head from such a height, they could have been killed,” Couzyn said.

The group fled the scene and flew back to Mbotyi River Lodge after only 30 minutes at the falls.

Environmental scientists Bridget and Michiel Jonker, from Johannesburg, were in the tour group with their children, aged 6 and 8, but for them the incident proved the straw that broke the camel's back.

In a joint statement they said: “As a family, we have been considering emigration, mostly because of an unacceptable crime rate that threatens the personal security of our family. We recently had an attempted abduction of our oldest daughter by a vagrant in full view of a number of people in Johannesburg. After this incident at Tsitsa Falls, the decision to emigrate is clear and we will definitely be leaving SA to seek a safer future for our children elsewhere. This comes at great cost to ourselves and our friends and families but unfortunately we feel that we have no choice.”

Couzyn wrote to the deputy director of local economic development at Mhlontlo  municipality, Malibongwe Nqeketo, about the incident. Nqeketo said: "I did receive the letter, and I just forwarded it to the municipal manager who will be handling the matter."  

Couzyn says in the letter: “In an area of our country where tourism is one of the most important ways in which the local community can be uplifted, I find it impossible to understand or condone the type of attack to which we were subjected and I will be laying criminal charges of attempted murder as soon as I am able to get to a police station.

“I will be reporting the attack to the minister of tourism as well as the minister of police and will also brief the media. With your immediate response, this will hopefully result in action to ensure that attacks of this nature are dealt with in the strongest possible manner that our law allows and that further such attacks never happen again.”

He described two of the attacking youngsters as being bigger than the other four. One was a girl.

“We decided not to land at the village where they stayed because we didn’t know what reaction we would get there from locals.”

ECPTA CEO Vuyani Dayimani said the agency condemned any attack “of any form” on tourists as they brought numerous economic benefits.

“The agency calls upon all citizens and stakeholders to assist in positioning the province as a safe and friendly destination for all,” Dayimani said.

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