South Africa 30.10.2017 06:36 am

UK model’s crime ordeal in SA sparks calls for pushback

Armed robbery

Armed robbery

Six British nationals, including model Sarah MacDonnell, were robbed at Maison Noir villa by masked suspects who forced their way onto the premises.

South Africa has again has received a bad rap following a crime 11 days ago involving a British model who was robbed “by a machete-wielding gang”, according to UK media, at a luxury R16 000-a-night villa in Cape Town.

According to the Daily Mail, six British nationals, including model Sarah MacDonnell, were robbed at Maison Noir villa by masked suspects who forced their way onto the premises.

MacDonnell, 39, said “she did not expect to survive the ordeal”. She said her boyfriend had stepped out for a cigarette when three men in balaclavas entered the premises, threatening him with a screwdriver.

“I was on the loo and one of these guys suddenly appeared right next to me and put a screwdriver against my throat, then hauled me onto the floor,” she said. “David was brought into the bathroom by the other two men and his hands were tied up with an iPhone cord. It was petrifying.

“One guy started asking me what valuables we had and where the safe was. He quickly got quite aggressive because I had no idea about the safe, and he was violently pushing me around the bathroom to make me tell him.”

Shortly afterwards, the other guests were also tied up and then the suspects fled. Western Cape police spokesperson Andre Traut confirmed the incident was being investigated. According to Daniel Silke, of Political Futures Consultancy, incidents involving tourists in South Africa get press coverage that is “well out of proportion to their seriousness”.

“We will not necessarily see a direct correlation between these incidents and an effect on the tourism industry.” But at the same time, he said, it’s difficult to compute how many tourists decide not to visit South Africa simply because they are afraid or have a negative view of the country.

“The country could indeed be doing a lot better when it comes to international arrivals. Much better than the current figures show.”

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa called on government to step up efforts to uphold the rule of law and address the scourge of crime in the country as incidents like this could harm “South Africa’s international reputation as a world-class and safe tourist destination”.

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