High praise for Mpumalanga’s Tourist Victim Support Initiative
There were recent reports in the media on the roll-out of the Tourist Victim Support programme for Mpumalanga and more specifically the Kruger Lowveld Ehlanzeni region.
The programme provides for the Tourism Safety Manager of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks agency, supported by volunteers from the local tourism organisations in each town, to provide after care to tourists in the unfortunate event of a serious accident or crime incident. All police stations were visited during the past few weeks to provide details of the protocol and who to contact in each of the towns in the region, to ensure everybody is fully informed of what they should be doing and also to meet each other in person.
We received this letter from a Good Samaritan who was the first to arrive at the scene of an accident recently:
“On Thursday 1st August, returning from a trip to Mozambique with my wife and daughter, we arrived at the scene of a horrific accident on the N4 in Mpumalanga. Two vehicles were involved, one of the vehicles had 5 Mozambiquans of which only one survived and the other vehicle’s passengers were a father and son – the father (was killed on impact).
We extracted the son from his car and laid him out on the side of the road in case the vehicle set alight. It transpired that he was a visitor from the Netherlands, having arrived the day before, and we managed to contact family there with our cell phone so that his family was aware of the tragedy.
We would like to compliment all the rescue services involved – ambulance and traffic officers – they all arrived reasonably quickly and were efficient, sympathetic and executed their duties incredibly efficiently.
We were most concerned about the gentleman from the Netherlands, who was badly injured in a strange country having just lost his father in a terrible death, but were directed by the chief traffic officer to contact Lindiwe Mthombeni working for the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency. Her interest and support was amazing – I cannot believe that any other country in the world offers such an incredible back-up system. We first spoke to her at the side of the road after the accident and from then on she stayed in contact with the family in the Netherlands, organised visits to him (in the hospital) by the President of Tourism (Mr Oupa Pilane) and the local chairman of tourism (Nelspruit Tourism Organisation, Mr Cobus Tomlinson), counselling for him, organised the mother’s flights from the Netherlands, accommodation and transport to and from the hospital.
Lindiwe’s care and interest in the victim’s plight sends such an incredible message to other countries about South Africa. Her dedication and sensitivity and “going the extra mile” makes us feel so proud to be South African and have such an amazing support system in place. We need to encourage tourism and Lindiwe and her team will surely be a beacon to support this!”
Meanwhile, authorities from several other Provinces requested assistance to roll out the same programme other major tourism areas.
Annexure A: Photo of Lindiwe Mthombeni
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