“No speculations please,” these were the words of the SANParks management following the Kruger National Park (KNP) reporting a second fire in the park within days of the first one in Letaba Rest Camp. A restaurant in Berg en Dal Rest Camp was set ablaze on Monday, the 14th of September. The fire reportedly started in the restaurant’s kitchen.
This fire, which is believed to have started around 10:00 on Monday is still being investigated, similarly too, the first fire a week ago in Letaba which started around 22:00. Currently it is unclear what, or indeed who, started the fires in either of the cases.
However, DA Shadow Minister of Environment Forestry and Fisheries, James Lorimer, believes the fires are coming at a time when the park management are failing to provide answers about the availability of accommodation in the park.
SANParks countered in a statement on Monday afternoon that people should not speculate. “The contractor team who are refurbishing the units at the camp, along with staff members, reacted quickly and managed to contain the fire before it could spread throughout the whole building, but part of the facility, kitchen and dining hall, has been damaged.”
Lorimer said that at a Portfolio Committee, meeting which was held earlier this month, he requested the parks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni, to provide more details of how many accommodation units were not in-use and what the reasons were for the units not being available. He had given Mketeni 24 hours to respond to his query but due to other relations he was afforded 7 days to respond. “That deadline has come and gone, and if Mketeni has delivered his report, it has not been passed on to MPs,” stated Lorimer.
Furthermore, Lorimer stated that the lack of response strengthens the perception that there are major problems at the Park, which are being deliberately hidden by Park management.