The aha Bongani Mountain Lodge in Mpumalanga was destroyed in a fire over the weekend.
“It was arson and the case is under investigation,” confirmed lodge Director, Steffen Schneier.
He told Tourism Update that, fortunately, there were no guests at the lodge when the fire broke out and that all staff had been evacuated safely. “I would say there is about 100% damage to the lodge; everything was burnt to the ground.”
The lodge is in Mthethomusha Game Reserve, which is managed by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).
It is alleged that the act of arson was related to an attack on the anti-poaching unit employed by MTPA. “The anti-poaching unit was attacked and there is a rumour that, during that attack, the rangers shot one of the attackers,” said Schneier.
He added that this rumour was unconfirmed, noting that the rangers denied shooting anyone.
Schneier said the rangers’ lodgings on the game reserve had also burned down in the fire.
“Due to the devastating damage caused to the property, no further reservations for accommodation will be taken until further notice,” said a statement from aha.
The statement added that all guests and tour operators with existing bookings, would be contacted by an aha team member.