Pretoria - Visitors to the Pretoria zoo are worried about their safety after a family was attacked at knifepoint. The family visited the zoo in Boom Street, next to the busy taxi rank, on Sunday.
They were attacked and robbed at knifepoint after visiting the zoo, according to complainant Karen Lusse on consumer website Hello-Peter. She wrote that when her family arrived at the zoo, the parking was full and they were directed to a parking spot by informal car guards.
After leaving the zoo, they were accosted by five men at knifepoint, who stole their belongings.
Zoo spokesman Craig Allenby confirmed the incident but said robberies were not common at the zoo. “We have sufficient parking. If it is full we have an agreement with the departments of Education and Health to use their parking bays.”
Allenby said the zoo was in constant communication with the Tshwane Metro Police to try to improve safety around the zoo.
Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said he was unaware of the weekend attack, but admitted the zoo area was problematic in terms of illegal parking. “The public must ensure they park in designated areas for their safety and to avoid fines or their cars being towed. We will liaise with local police to see how widespread the crime is and work on having operations in that area.”
Susan Burnie, whose family was attacked outside the zoo in December, said “after we were attacked, the zoo promised to get back to us but that hasn’t happened”.
Burnie said when she arrived at the zoo, the parking was full and she was directed to a parking bay on the street by informal parking attendants. “When we came back to the car, six men held us at gunpoint and stole our wallets, phone and GPS.”
Burnie said the zoo should warn visitors not to park outside allocated parking areas; warn that the informal parking attendants are not linked to the zoo, and it should have visible security.
Allenby said: “We take safety seriously and are constantly in discussion with the city on what we can do to improve it.”