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Open Letter to OSCAP from the SANParks Head of Communications
Date: 28th January 2013
SANParks have noted with concern the recent irresponsible pronouncements made in the social media platforms by Allison Thompson of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP), an anti-poaching lobby group, concerning allegations of poaching equipment having been found in staff quarters during the recent flood evacuations. Thompson alleges that some “sources” further alleged that there were shocking discoveries of illegal tenants in the park which included some Mozambicans being housed in the staff accommodation in the Kruger National Park.
First of all it is important to unmask these supposed “sources”, which from the information we have, seem to be some uninformed mischievous individuals whom a person of Thompson’s responsibility should be discerning enough not to rely on. There are official and informed sources that she could have used to verify this information. Also to claim that anyone was contacted at SANParks and refused to comment is an out and out blue lie. We invite Thompson to publicly produce tangible evidence to support this claim by no later than end of business today.
For one thing, no illegal tenants were found in Shingwedzi during the evacuations and SANParks has a list of all people that were rescued. Further, it would be of benefit to Thompson to acquaint herself with operations in the park before making scurrilous statements, because families that live in the park cannot be labeled as illegal tenants, or even their relatives who reside with them. We would like to invite Thompson to produce a list of these so called illegal tenants or inform the law enforcement agencies before making a song and dance in social media.
Further we would like to refute the dangerous and irresponsible lie made by Thompson in the same announcement which alleges that poaching equipment was found in staff quarters. Once again we invite Thompson to produce evidence to this effect to the police.
We know that many people have jumped on the rhino bandwagon for various reasons but we hope that they have at least done so for a genuine desire to find a solution to save our rhinos and not for petty political agendas or scandalous intentions. However, it has come to our attention that the intentions of Thompson or OSCAP are anything but pure and are just nothing more than posturing ahead of the CITES COP 16, and that these views are sponsored by certain NGOs, known to SANParks, with an agenda towards COP16.
It should also be noted that this tendency to use the name of Major General Johan Jooste (retired) in a smear campaign against SANParks is seriously uninformed and in poor taste. SANParks has brought in Maj. Gen. Jooste (ret) to be the Commanding Officer for the ranger corps in our fight against poaching, not as a mascot for irresponsible and uninformed anti-government activists. Further it should be noted that the responsibility of evacuating people during this difficult time was not and has never been the responsibility of Maj. Gen. Jooste or the rangers.
The last thing we need is OSCAP starting ill-informed campaigns that will distract SANParks from attending to the multiple and complex tasks at hand. If Thompson wants to genuinely contribute to the fight against rhino poaching she should take up real and true campaigns against rhino poaching.
Our employees are traumatized enough at the moment, having lost all their possessions in the floods and possibly lost their lives, without having to deal with such disgusting lies from people in an organization that masquerades as an organization which is concerned about our parks.
We are truly disappointed in OSCAP.
Head of Communications
South African National Parks (SANParks)