Rescue team member shot by poachers while searching for missing crewman after Shayamanzi fire
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DURBAN - The search and rescue operation to find the missing crew member, after the Shayamanzi I houseboat fire, was disrupted on Monday after one of the rescue team personnel was shot during an encounter with illegal poachers.
A rescue team has been searching for Maxwell Nyawo, 36, after the fire broke out on the boat on Sunday at the Jozini Dam.
Shayamanzi chef Michael Chilizane Phiri, 51, and German tourist Michael Mirschel, 64, both died in the incident. The other four passengers and two other crew members managed to reach the shore safely.
Speaking to The Mercury on Tuesday, Jozini Municipality Disaster, Fire, and Rescue manager Ayanda Gumede said rescue team members had an unexpected encounter with illegal poachers in the area during the mission to find Nyawo on Monday.
He said one of the rescue team members was shot.
"Our team member is recovering in hospital from the gunshot wound,” said Gumede.
The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) in KwaZulu-Natal issued a statement today calling on communities to work with law enforcement and conservation agencies to clamp down on poaching.
Edtea said the department was deeply concerned about poaching incidents which were being reported across the province.
It said that on Monday, there was a report of a possible violent opposition to enforcement.
“The SAPS, communities, conservation agencies such as Ezemvelo, tourism organisations and all relevant stakeholders need to work together to protect our natural resources. All of us have a duty to ensure the sustainable use of resources for the benefit of present and future generations,” said MEC Ravi Pillay.
Pillay added that, apart from this crime having a detrimental effect on the environment, it also had a negative impact on the tourism sector and on economic development.
“The natural resources that we are endowed with are one of our key selling points as a destination. Some of our unique species are a core attraction to travellers and therefore depleting these resources will have a negative impact on our attractiveness as a tourist destination,” he said.