Members of the party visited the site earlier this week. Howick Falls, located a stone’s throw from the Mandela capture site in Howick, is a popular tourist site and attracts thousands of people each year.
DA MP Greg Krumbock said they were concerned with the state of the falls as parts of it had been damaged, it had been taken over by drug addicts and tourists had been threatened.
He said that while the area had previously attracted close to 250000 people a year, this had declined by almost 40%.
“The (Mngeni) council took a decision to cut the funding it was giving to the Howick tourism office. The sponsorship helped to employ about four women, now jobless. They were earning around R2500 a month, which is very little.
“In the past few months, the park next to the falls viewing area has been taken over by prostitution and drag racing. Every Friday night there are incidents and on Saturday mornings the area resembles a municipal dump.”
He said informal traders who sell their wares next to the falls viewing area were losing customers due to the decline in tourism. “There are also coffee shops that were being impacted; they are recording a decline of 40% of their customers.”
Krumbock said the decline in tourism in the area was a huge loss.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation address, said tourism was key to creating jobs. Howick Falls attracted about 250000 people who were spending around R100 each, translating to around R25million a year.”
A source close to Mngeni Municipality rubbished the allegations by the DA, saying some of the allegations had racial undertones.
Steve Simpson of Mngeni Municipality said the council had taken the decision to suspend the grant due to financial constraints.
“The allegations about crime, that’s a bit harsh and it’s not true that tourist numbers have declined as tourists are still going there in large numbers,” he said.