The Committee was briefed in a virtual meeting by SANParks and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority on their performances in the first quarter of the 2023/24 financial year. The North West Parks and Tourism Board also updated the Committee on the investigation into the theft of its rhino horn stockpile.
SANParks said it was still in a recovery phase, but there were improvements in the level of tourism, as well as the income derived from it. They were not out of the woods yet but firmly on the road to recovery. Its performance in the first quarter had been affected by the severe floods which had occurred in the Table Mountain and Agulhas National Parks, which had left the area to be worked on waterlogged.
The Committee asked what the entity was doing to counter the recent crime incidents on Table Mountain. They also raised a concern about the consistent lack of compliance by SANParks to meet their goal of employing people with disabilities. They wanted to know whether the entity had any plans to renovate some of the infrastructure within the Kruger National Park. SANParks said engagements were taking place with the City of Cape Town and other senior officials on how to deal with the Table Mountain crime incidents. They confirmed that funds had been set aside for the refurbishment of Kruger National Park Infrastructure.
The North West Parks and Tourism Board reported on its progress in appointing a board and on developments following the recent theft of its rhino horn stockpile worth R9 million. The Committee was also informed by the Hawks on their progress so far in investigating the theft. Committee Members expressed their concern over the lack of an internal investigation into the rhino horn theft. They were also disappointed at the slow progress in the prosecution of most wildlife cases, and asked what the cause of the delays was.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority reported on the implementation of the panel recommendations that were tabled in the Committee on what they were doing to address the back flooding that was caused by the Mfolozi/Msunduzi rivers, and the impact on the commercial and subsistence farmers in the St Lucia area. They also confirmed that they had worked with the surrounding community in helping to reduce rhino poaching, but indicated that snaring incidents were still occurring. Members asked what progress had been made in dealing with the leakage of sewage at the facility.
SANParks first quarter performance
Ms Pam Yako, Chairperson: SANParks Board, said that for the first quarter of the current financial year, SANParks had managed to achieve 86% of the planned targets, but they were working on improving those figures. Moving forward, they wanted to look at putting more resources into improving organisational performance. SANParks was still in a recovery phase, but there were improvements in the level of tourism, as well as the income derived from it. They were not out of the woods yet but firmly on the road to recovery.
Ms Hapiloe Sello, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SANParks, said that they had a total of 56 targets and had managed to achieve 45 of them. Among the targets not achieved was the number of hectares of wetlands rehabilitated, where they had managed to rehabilitate only 279 m³ of degraded wetlands. The reasons for the variance were the unprecedented heavy rains in the Table Mountain and Agulhas National Parks which had left the area to be worked on waterlogged and prevented implementation. The engineering design work had since been completed, and they anticipated that the target would be achieved by the end of the financial year.
The other target not achieved was the percentage of improvement in the customer satisfaction index (CSI) rating, where they had aimed at a 0.5% improvement from the previous year but had managed only a 0.01% improvement. The reason for the variance was due to a decline in key customer touch points in nature experience. As a corrective measure, the hospitality improvement initiatives, which included training, were being implemented to improve customer service. The organisation has also put resources towards infrastructure maintenance to improve customers' experience.
Ms Sello said other targets not achieved included the percentage of all quarterly goods and services contracted to qualifying small enterprises (QSEs) for procurement below R1 million and also above R1 million. As a corrective measure, SANParks conducted workshops in surrounding communities and towns to raise awareness of procurement opportunities for QSEs and exempt micro enterprises (EMEs). The organisation would continue to conduct the workshops, expand them to other national parks and monitor their impact.
Another target not achieved was the increase in the percentage of people with disabilities, which was off target by 1% -- only 37 people with disabilities out of 3 997 had been appointed, and audits commenced in the second quarter. The organisation was on track to achieve the annual target.
Ms Pretty Makukule, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), SANParks, said that in the first quarter, the entity's total revenue amounted to R709.906 million against the target of R962.363 million, resulting in a negative variance of R252.457 million. She explained that the under-achievement was mainly due to revenue from non-exchange transactions being less than anticipated due to slower expenditure on conditional grants. The total expenditure, including depreciation for the period under review, was R699.174 million against the budget of R865.320 million, resulting in a variance of R166.146 million.
See attached for full presentation
Mr D Bryant (DA) asked what steps were being put in place to ensure that the facilities at the Kruger National Park (KNP) were improved going forward. What was giving the CEO hope that there was going to be an improvement?
He said that there had been nine incidents of crime in the past month on Table Mountain, which was a tourism hot spot. This was concerning. He asked if SANParks was experiencing staff shortages at Table Mountain. If not, then there must be a move to increase the ranger component. He understood that there were budgetary constraints, but the presentation indicated that there was a R103 million surplus. Were there plans or steps being taken to prioritise part of that funding towards the important ranger posts for Table Mountain National Park, and also for the KNP?
Ms S Mbatha (ANC) said that there was a long outstanding issue of non-compliance on the employment of people with disabilities which had not been dealt with for a long time.
Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, responded to Mr Bryant that she and the CEO of SANParks had a meeting on Friday afternoon about the incidents of crime on Table Mountain. She had also engaged the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) in the Western Cape government. They had agreed that there would be an urgent meeting later in the week between the CEO of SANParks, the Provincial Commissioner of Police, the City of Cape Town and Cape Nature so that they could put together a task team to address the matter. This was a matter that was not being taken lightly, as the tourist high season was about to commence. She said the Committee would be updated after the meeting had taken place.
Ms Sello said that the Ministry had given SANParks an additional R700 million for infrastructure maintenance for the current financial year. She was leading a task team looking specifically at very high impact projects. As indicated, 42% of their infrastructure grant was allocated to tourism products. There were other elements of infrastructure in their parks, including staff housing, which were also in dire need of repair, such as road maintenance. She assured the Committee that 42% of that budget was specifically for infrastructure. At the moment, they were on a three-year infrastructure improvement plan which they had begun working on. By the end of those three years, they would have completely refurbished 70% of some of their major parks -- Satara and Skukuza --. By the end of the current financial year, 37 bungalows in Skukuza and 50 bungalows in Satara would be refurbished. She was therefore confident that they would be making significant inroads in improving their infrastructure while paying attention to the needs of their staff.
In response to Ms Mbatha, she agreed that the situation was not a satisfactory one -- even the 1.1% being targeted was not a reflection of disabled people in the greater population. Some of the challenges being faced included the infrastructure set up in terms of access for people with disabilities. Their operations were quite difficult, being out in the bush. Also, there were a limited number of functions, particularly at an operational level, where they would place disabled people, but they were looking into the issue.
Mr Bryant thanked the CEO for the feedback and appreciated the steps being taken, but asked again whether there was a ranger shortfall on Table Mountain.
Ms H Winkler (DA) asked about the latest rhino poaching statistics at the different parks under SANParks.
Ms Sello replied to Mr Bryant that she would check on the ranger numbers at Table Mountain, but from her understanding they did not have a dire situation regarding vacancies. As indicated by the Minister, their challenge was much bigger, with Table Mountain being an urban park susceptible to spillover from crime in the city. Table Mountain was a massive open access park, so even if they had a major vacancy issue, it was not entirely possible for the situation to be managed by SANParks rangers on their own. That was why they were making efforts to collaborate at a senior level, but she would be happy to provide better numbers on the ranger vacancies later.
In response to Ms Winkler, she said that when the Minister released the poaching numbers a few months back, she had indicated that there had been a significant reduction in the number of rhinos poached in Kruger National Park. They had lost 13 rhinos. There was also an indication that there were shifts in trends from the KNP to KwaZulu-Natal. There were a number of reasons ascribed to the decrease, including the dehorning exercise which was a constant practice in the Kruger National Park. There were six other national parks with rhino populations where no rhinos were poached. They did have other issues of elephant poaching, in which they had lost six elephants so far due to snaring.
Ms Winkler asked what the CEO believed had caused the uptick in the snaring of elephants, and what sort of plan was in place to prevent the issue from escalating going forward.
The Chairperson also asked when the CEO would get back to Mr Bryant with the numbers.
The Minister asked that the response to Mr Bryant be submitted in writing.
Ms Sello said that the issue of snaring at the KNP had been noted, particularly the uptick. There was speculation that there had been an increase in bush meat demand, and perhaps community members were using this opportunity to create income for themselves. There was also a belief that there was something they referred to as "poaching for the pot," where people were poaching for consumption in domestic settings. They had already had a brainstorming session on the issue and had chosen to engage the community for the moment. Firstly, this was to understand where the uptick was coming from. They were going to engage the traditional leaders and understand the reasons, how they would intervene, how they would jointly develop measures of intervention and perhaps enlarge their activities concerning the sustainable use of the animals, with the communities being some of the beneficiaries of their culling activities. She had had early engagements with her colleagues to discuss the matter.
North West Parks and Tourism Board on rhino horn theft
Ms Tsotso Tlhapi, MEC: Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreational Affairs, North West Province, confirmed they were working with the police and the North West Parks and Tourism Board to deal with the issue. The presentation would focus on the progress made by the province in dealing with the issue of the theft of rhino horn stockpiles.
Mr Bryant said that the last time the Committee had engaged with the North West Parks and Tourism Board, there had been an indication that the Board would be present in the day's meeting. He asked whether Ms Thami Matshego was the chairperson of the Board.
The Chairperson said that it had been indicated that the appointment of the Board would take around three months. He asked the CEO to deal with the issue as she presented.
Ms Thami Matshego, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), North West Parks and Tourism Board, replied that she was still the accounting authority, and that the mother department was advanced with the appointment of the new Board. There had been advertisements calling for the nomination of board members, and she was aware that they were busy working on the last stages, which the Head of Department (HOD) and the MEC would update the Committee on. They would have a new board by the end of this year or early next year.
She said that on Monday, 26 June 2023, at approximately 06:05, the Senior Manager: Resource Security, had been informed about an alleged burglary at the North West Parks and Tourism Board (NWPTB) head office. Police from the Mafikeng Police Station had visited and processed the crime scene on the same day of the incident. A detailed account of the incident had been presented to the Portfolio Committee meeting held on 2 August. The registration and storage of the horns were managed according to the national norms and standards for marking rhinoceros and rhinoceros' horns. Because of the demand and general value of the commodity, the horns were registered and stored in a specially constructed vault at the Board's headquarters. Subsequently, arrangements had been made for the SAPS, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the NWPTB, to successfully move the horns from Mahikeng to a safe location. She informed the Committee that the breached security measures had since been restored. The entity had also received a security assessment report from the State Security Agency (SSA), which had identified key areas of intervention by management, arranged in the order of priority.
See attached for full presentation
Progress of DPCI's investigation
Lt Gen (Dr/Adv) Godfrey Lebeya, National Head, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), said that wildlife trafficking was a national priority crime that the Environmental Protected Resources Section investigated under the Component: Serious Organised Crime Investigations in the DPCI. There were a total of 78 wildlife trafficking cases across all provinces that were on the court roll.
The purpose of their attendance at the day's meeting was to brief the Committee on the progress relating to the 51 stolen rhino horn stockpiles from the North West stockpile facility in Mahikeng in June. The 51 rhino horns, estimated at R9 million, had been stolen from the safe. An investigation team was established, which had gathered evidence and identified four suspects involved in the commissioning of the offence. The case appeared before the court on 19 October for a bail application based on new facts provided by the first accused. The case had been postponed to 3 November for a further bail application and judgment.
Referring to the case of the State v Groenewald, he explained that the accused persons were all arrested in 2010, but they were all released on bail. The matter had been enrolled for 14 years. The case had now been set down for trial, and 185 witnesses would be required to testify. It was common cause that the matter would be enrolled for an extended period. The reasons for the postponements were caused by two motion applications launched by the main and co-accused and other parties, which had caused harm to all the parties involved, including the state and witnesses. The state had indicated at all material times that they were ready to proceed with the trial on the matter. On 5 October, the judge ruled that the matter must be transferred to the High Court Division of Limpopo for further handling. The matter was postponed to 9 February for the first appearance in the High Court Division of Limpopo in Polokwane, and the trial date was also stipulated as 7 October to 1 November 2024 by the judge.
He concluded by stating that trafficking was not purely a conservation and environmental management problem, but constituted a highly sophisticated form of serious transnational organised crime that was, among other threats, also a threat to national security. The DPCI remained committed to the task at hand.
See attached for full presentation
Ms A Weber (DA) said there was a concern over the lack of seriousness with which the rhino cases were being treated. They seemed to be dragging their feet, while the serial offenders kept on getting bail. She asked why the cases were taking so long. She asked whether the North West still used the Rhino DNA Index System (RhODIS) for testing DNA. Were they using RhODIS to register the horns, and if the chips were in the rhino horns, were they being used or had they disintegrated?
Mr Bryant said that the fact there was still no sitting board in place, and this was anticipated to be in place potentially only next year, was unacceptable. He had looked at the previous report given by the North West Parks and Tourism Board, and they seemed to be repeating the same things about appointing the Board and the timelines. The lack of a board meant a lack of oversight, especially for a state-owned organisation funded by public funds and accountable to the public. Having no board to conduct oversight was one of the reasons they had ended up in situations like the one they were in.
He also found it completely unacceptable that no proper internal investigation had taken place. The reasons given that the investigating officer could not investigate himself were nonsense. They could easily outsource that responsibility to a different entity. The fact that there appeared to be zero consequence management taking place in terms of the management of that facility was completely ludicrous. The first time they had a meeting with the Board, the Committee was told that a number of significant irregularities came out during the investigation. The fact that none of those seemed to have been addressed internally was a serious concern. He strongly urged the MEC to intervene and ensure that an outside body or person be brought in to conduct an internal investigation.
He asked the SAPS what had happened on 3 November in the case which they indicated had been previously postponed to that date. Without any specifics on the case, he asked whether there had been any indication yet of involvement of anybody from the North West Parks Board, because if not, that should indicate that there had been no reason to continue with an internal investigation. Nevertheless, an internal investigation should still be taking place.
Ms Winkler said that the case had shown an indictment of the entire system when it came to prosecuting matters relating to environmental justice and wildlife trafficking. It pointed to a lack of capacity and broader issues in terms of legislation. She therefore wanted to know what the DFFE, the Board and the SAPS thought stood in the way of successful prosecutions, and had contributed to those cases getting rolled over for years and were not successfully prosecuted, and had repeat offenders.
The Chairperson asked when the Committee could expect a fully-fledged functional board and the timelines.
Lt Gen Lebeya replied to Ms Weber that they always opposed the issue of bail, but the courts, after considering what the state and defence argued, had the final say and in this regard, it had been given in favour of the accused. As the Hawks, they always opposed such applications for bail.
On why the matters were taking so long, he said that the defence sometimes seemed like they did not want to have their day in court. They would file applications, which at times went up to the Constitutional Court. This in turn, delayed the finalisation of the matter, as it could not be finalised in a criminal court until the constitutional questions had been sorted out. From their side, they would have loved a situation where those matters could be quickly finalised so that they did not continuously have those cases on hand.
Regarding the issue of the chips and the DNA, he said that they always looked for RhODIS, which was still being applied as part of their investigation process. They would hope to find rhino horns that had been taken through the RhODIS processes, otherwise this meant that they would be relying on other evidence.
Maj Gen Patrick Mbotho, North West DPCI Provincial Head, said the matter had been postponed to 3 November for a bail application. The bail application continued on 9 November, and from there, they would get a future date. He assured the Committee that they were leaving no stone unturned regarding the possible suspects identified. They had certain individuals who were the subject of their investigations, and progress would be reported when it happened.
Mr Bryant asked that in the absence of the MEC, the accounting officer should answer their questions on the issue of internal investigations being outsourced, and the Chairperson's questions on the appointment of the Board and the timelines.
Ms Winkler asked why the matter had been referred to the Constitutional Court, and what constitutional questions needed to be resolved before the criminal matter could be pursued.
Lt Gen Lebeya replied that the reason why the matter had been referred to the Constitutional Court was that the accused was challenging the constitutionality under which the charges had been brought. That was why the criminal court was not be able to proceed until the Constitutional Court determined those issues.
North West Parks and Tourism Board's response
Ms Matshego said that the issue was a bit complicated. When they had requested the SSA to conduct an internal investigation, they were advised that they would do an assessment because, at that time, it looked like the DPCI (Hawks) were ahead with the case. In the interim, as they were talking with different security agencies about what next needed to be done, it came out that there was suspicion that there may be some internal involvement, and that was part of the problem. They were given names, and it looked like very soon there would be arrests in the internal investigation. That was why they had decided not to continue with the internal investigations, because they had thought they would get big arrests, but it seemed that there had been some form of complication along the way with the investigation that had led to the delay. However, she took the advice of the Committee that they should nevertheless continue with their own internal investigation, which they would do despite delays. They were just sidetracked by the thought that by now, those who had been suspected internally would have been arrested.
The Chairperson said that the concerns of the Committee were that whilst they appreciated the case that Lt Gen Lebeya had cited, they wanted to create an impression and understanding of the sensitivity of the case. They should not have left everything in the hands of special crime investigations. He felt like they were going around in circles, with no clear information being provided on the questions being raised.
Mr Bryant expressed his frustration at the connectivity issues hampering the meeting.
He suggested that there may be other issues at play that were not necessarily criminal in nature, but were related to possible negligence and administrative issues, so an investigation from an organisational perspective to ensure that it did not happen again was important. The CEO had acknowledged the issue, so he was glad they would look into it and put the internal investigation into place. The outstanding question was on the appointment of the Board.
Ms Weber proposed that since the MEC seemed to be having issues with connectivity, perhaps she could provide a written response by the next day on the question of the Board, as well as the case on 3 November.
The Chairperson said that they would give the MEC time to try to connect and respond. Otherwise, they would require the physical attendance of the MEC and her team and all the stakeholders in Cape Town to ensure that they got answers.
Response by North West Parks and Tourism Board
MEC Thlapi apologised for the connectivity issues. She confirmed that there was a case on 3 November, but she was still waiting for a report from the Head of Department, because she had indicated that they must write to the entity to request the report. She was not yet in a position to give feedback, but she would make sure that once she got the report, she would share it with the Committee.
On the issue of the Board, she said she had promised the last time that the Board would be appointed before the end of December. They were at a stage where they could now appoint members. They had already followed the necessary protocols, and gazetting had closed last month. They would be appointing the Board before the end of December.
She confirmed that she got monthly reports from the parks, so she would also ensure that she followed up to ensure they dealt with the issue. However, after the appointment of the Board, she was confident that they would progress faster. She assured the Committee that she would follow up on the issue.
She asked that she be allowed not to respond on the issue of internal investigations now, saying she would write to the entity about why they had not done an internal investigation. In her view, they could have started with internal investigations, but she would check with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) why they had not conducted an internal investigation.
The Chairperson said they were not underscoring the work done by the Hawks and all other stakeholders, but they wanted an internal investigation. He hoped that the next time the North West Parks and Tourism Board appeared before the Committee, the Board would have been appointed. He suggested that the Board's appointment should be resolution of the meeting, and that the Committee would arrive in Mafikeng unannounced, or the Hawks and the North West Parks and Tourism Board would arrive in Cape Town. He asked for the Members' views.
Mr Bryant agreed, as did Ms T Mchunu (ANC).
Mr Bryant asked whether any of the horns had been recovered.
Lt Gen Lebeya said that no rhino horns had so far been recovered. He added that that was the sensitive area they were working on, and the Department had hinted at some of the things they wanted to report from their side when it had happened, and not what they were planning on doing. He asked to be allowed to finalise this, because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was also advising them on what the best next step to be taken would be.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park first quarter performance 2023/24
Mr Mabhudu Tembe, Chairperson, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Board, said that the entity had 44 planned targets, and had managed to achieve 41 of them targets. It had concluded the specialist studies and a report which was being analysed by the experts on the Msunduzi River in a request to implement the panel of expert’s recommendation report on the St Lucia Estuary. A socio-economic study was underway to look at alternative options for community members who were dependent on the Mfolozi/Msunduzi system flood plain for their livelihoods. He confirmed that a service provider had been appointed to undertake a survey of the Mpuluzi catchment area.
Mr Sibusiso Bukhosini, CEO, iSimangaliso, said that they had achieved 93% of their targets. The targets not achieved included the information communication technology (ICT) governance framework which they had aimed at having reviewed by the end of the first quarter. This did not happen because the governance framework was not aligned with the ICT strategy. They were therefore working on realigning the ICT governance framework to the ICT strategy and having the framework review achieved in Quarter 2.
The other non-achieved target was on tourism and development, where they had planned to have the tourism and commercialisation strategy implemented as per the action plan. The reason for the variance was due to delays in the action plan which were caused by negotiations with the bidders. The other target was the increase in the revenue generated at the park. They had aimed to reach a target of R6 275 950, but had managed to generate revenue of only R4 036 000. This was mainly due to severe weather conditions in February, which had affected the tourism industry in Kwazulu-Natal and damaged infrastructure in the park. As a corrective measure, they undertook aggressive marketing and further explored other revenue sources.
Based on the above, the entity was 3% below the expected revenue due to a smaller number of paying visitors in the first quarter, and some delay in implementing conditional grants such as coast care and Working for Water.
Mr Bukhosini reported on the implementation of the panel recommendations that were tabled in the Committee on what they were doing to address the back flooding that was caused by the Mfolozi/Msunduzi and the impact on the commercial and subsistence farmers in the St Lucia area. He said there had been a Section 38 submission, and the response from the DFFE had been that they must do either the basic assessment report, or go the route of an environmental impact assessment. However, when they looked at the processes, the basic assessments that needed to be looked at included the employment of sedimentologists, vegetation specialists, a hydrologist and a social scientist. What they had done was to cast their net wider and bring in a plethora of specialists who would then make sure that all their issues were covered, so that their adaptive management decisions would be based on scientific studies and evidence. They gathered together the sedimentology, geomorphology and vegetation specialists, a hydrologist, a social scientist, and a marine and aquatic specialist. These specialists had gathered all the data and were finalising the analysis. They would submit this for the basic assessment process and hoped that it would be attended to and receive the attention it deserved. The project was not being done only by iSimangaliso, but by all the stakeholders. They worked together, keeping each other informed so there was not an issue of us and them. It was a community issue that they were dealing with collectively.
The inundation of water crocodiles and hippos continued to be an issue, but they were doing their best. They also had an estuary maintenance plan and management plan that they promised to work on. They had appointed service providers in January who had worked on that process. They also had a consultation with the small scale fisheries on the maintenance management plan, which further amplified some of the recommendations made by the panel of experts in the symposium. One of the key recommendations was the need to look at the adaptive management system, because as it stood, it required a human intervention, as the expectation of it operating as it used to many years ago may not be possible, looking at what was happening in the system.
See attached for full presentation
Ms Winkler asked what the status was of the intervention with the farming community that had suffered severe flooding. Was it true that there had been a spillage of sewage into iSimangaliso? Which facilities were being transferred, and did this apply to the crocodile park next to iSmangaliso, which had been under the jurisdiction of Ezemvelo? The last time she had visited the place, the state of that crocodile park was quite dilapidated and the animals did not look in the best condition. Were there plans to upgrade those facilities and improve the welfare of those animals?
She was glad to hear there were not many incidents of rhino poaching. She asked how many snaring incidents there had been in the current year, aside from the elephants. She wondered whether they had worked with the neighbouring communities to help with conservation, and if this was a success story that could be replicated in other parks like they have seen in SANParks, where there had been an uptick in snaring.
The Minister said it was unreasonable to ask for statistics on snaring in a Portfolio Committee, and suggested that a response be provided in writing.
Mr Bukhosini said that the farming community formed part and parcel of the team they were working with to find a solution. In the recommendations of the panel appointed by the Minister, there was an issue of alternative livelihoods, seeing how best to deal with the issue of flooding in case the plan they had put in place did not work out.
On the crocodile centre issue, he said two aspects were involved. Ezemvelo was still handling the conservation aspect, but they were going to take over the commercial part of it. That was what they were doing at the moment, but in terms of the facility itself, they had renovated the facility significantly through the presidential stimulus, and it did look quite different now.
The Minister had spoken about the snares, but they had responded to that question in writing and provided details per species and the numbers.
On whether the community collaboration for iSimangaliso was a success story that could be replicated, he felt that unless community stakeholders -- people living in and around those areas -- saw the reason why those areas were protected and the responsiveness of those areas to the socio-economic issues of the park, the conservation efforts would be a loss game. However, because of their intervention and the aggressive approach in terms of stakeholder engagement and management, they had seen returns on their investments, and believe that that was the best model to associate with.
Regarding the sewage leakage, they had reported that a team was established, including the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), that was working on the issue. They had since confirmed that there had been leakage, and the team was looking at how much damage had been caused. Once this had been assessed, they would be able to come back to the Committee with a report. In the meantime, the municipality had plans to deal with the matter, because it was their responsibility to ensure that the bulk sewer was managed appropriately. However, they were being assisted by the DWS this time because that function had since been taken over from the district municipality.
On the issue of Isimangaliso taking over from Ezemvelo, especially the commercial facilities, he confirmed that they had engaged the services of an external legal person who had looked into the contract to ensure that they did not inherit unnecessary liabilities that the previous management had been involved in. This had since been finalised, and they would be submitting the matter to the Department so that it could be put to rest and they could then take over and implement the issue of commercialisation. Due to them taking over, they had seen the Kwazulu-Natal wildlife authorities, unfortunately, sort of abdicating their responsibility for upgrading the facilities, and it was for that reason that from time to time, they would hear visitors complaining. They had developed an infrastructure development and maintenance plan, but as far as the facilities were concerned, they wanted to transfer the responsibility and risk to private investors so that when they came in, it would be a product that would appeal to the target market.
Mr Bukhosini said there had been no rhino poaching cases, and the issue of working with communities had helped ensure no poaching incidents. He confirmed that snaring still occurred, and they had provided written responses to the Committee.
Ms Winkler asked whether the sewage leakage was still ongoing, or if there was a task team that had been appointed that was still investigating the leak that took place. She asked what the timeframe was for the investigation to be concluded.
Mr Bukhosini responded that the leakage had not been fully resolved, and that was what they were working on. They were waiting on a report from the DWS to give them an indication of what was happening, and what would be happening in terms of their plans. The impact of the leakage on the ground was being looked into, but there was currently no spillage. The incident was addressed in August, but that had a lot to do with the infrastructure, and once they got the information from the team they would be able to tell what the plans were going forward. They could safely say that the matter had been dealt with for the moment.
The Chairperson thanked the MEC from the North West, the leadership of the SAPS and the North West Parks and Tourism Board, and said he hoped that the Committee would still go to the North West to satisfy themselves on the outcome of the crime that had taken place there.
He also thanked SANParks and iSmangaliso for their attendance and everyone who had taken a keen interest in the developments in the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.