Minister Edna Molewa pays tribute to Kruger National Park Field Ranger, Mr Respect Mathebula in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga

29 July 2018

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, on Saturday, 28 July 2018, paid tribute to Kruger National Park field ranger Respect Mathebula, who was killed in a shootout with poachers on 19 July 2018.

Minister Molewa joined the Chief Executive of SANParks, Mr Fundisile Mketeni, the managing executive of SANParks, local community and church leaders in paying homage to the ranger who was killed in a shootout with poachers on 19 July 2018.

The Minister highlighted the changing work environment of field rangers in South Africa since rhino poaching increased 10 years ago.

“The work of a field ranger became more diverse and complex as these men and women woke each day to continue to lead the way for all of us in conserving our country’s natural wonders,”  she said.

Ahead of World Ranger Day on 31 July 2018, the Minister said it was rangers who are at the frontline: whether they are battling wildfires, or confronting poachers. 

Respect Mathebula was the first ranger to be killed by poachers in the Kruger National Park in more than 50 years. 

“The murder of one of our rangers is an act of aggression by unscrupulous individuals and gangs. His death at the hands of alleged rhino poachers is an indication of the severity of the threat our rangers are faced with a daily basis,” said Dr Molewa.

Minister Molewa added the death of Mr Mathebula highlighted the varied nature of a ranger’s work from environments that were peaceful on one day to confrontation the next. 

She appealed to community members to honour Mr Mathebula by working with SANParks and the government to preserve South Africa’s heritage.

“You can become directly involved in combating wildlife crime, as Respect did, or you can assist in educating our children, or other members of your community, about not only the importance of wildlife in strengthening our country’s economy, but also in conserving our biodiversity,”  said Minister Molewa.

To access the Minister's speech, click on the link below:

»  Minister Edna Molewa’s speech at the funeral of the late Field Ranger, Mr Respect Mathebula in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

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