Kruger National Park officials have responded to the public outcry over a horrific accident in which seven impala were killed by banning the responsible driver and imposing a further fine of R21000.
Last Wednesday the delivery truck driver hit a herd of impala, killing seven.
Witnesses said the driver had killed the impala after he overtook a vehicle near Skukuza at high speed. The impala were standing in the road at the time.
The truck belonged to a contractor working in the park.
Laura Mukwevho, spokeswoman for the Kruger National Park, said the driver was fined R2 500 for the charge of reckless driving.
In a statement released late on Tuesday, the park’s management said that following public outcry over the accident and the R2 500 fine imposed on the driver, they had further considered the recommendations of a final report into the incident.
“Based on this, a further penalty amounting to R21 000 was imposed on the main contractor, Kgokole Mmakole Trading & Projects CC (whose sub-contractor is Shivers Contractors), for failure to comply with the Code of Conduct in respect of the death of seven (7) impala. In addition, a ban of five years was imposed on the driver of the vehicle involved, prohibiting him from entering the Park for whatever reason,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, the Beeld newspaper reported that the driver, who they named as Earnest Hickman, 51, claimed that it was a freak accident.
Beeld reported that he was apparently only driving at 52km/h but this was too fast, said a SANParks spokesperson.
According to SANParks, speeding was the cause of the incident.
The newspaper quoted Hickman as saying: “I feel awful, but I’m innocent.”
He claimed he and seven colleagues in two vehicles had exceeded the 50km/h speed limit slightly in order to make the Skukuza gates, which closed at 6pm.
He said the impala had come “out of nowhere” and run across the road.
He tried to brake, but the trailer was heavily loaded and he couldn't stop in time.
“If I could have avoided the accident, I would have. I feel I am being unfairly crucified for something I could not control.”
In the statement on Tuesday Abe Sibiya, managing executive of the Kruger National Park, said: “I am completely saddened by this incident and would like to warn all contractors, suppliers, staff members and guests to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations of the Park. Otherwise, severe action shall be taken against any perpetrator without exception. People cannot be allowed to continue to disobey the rules and go unpunished.”
“We will up our ante and there will be more arrests and harsher penalties for transgressions in the Park,” Sibiya said.