Lodges in court over new gate at Tembe Elephant park
TWO game lodges in northern KZN arefighting over a new gate which givesone direct entry to Tembe ElephantPark.
Tembe Safaris claims in court papersthat its competitor, the RoyalThonga Safari Lodge, designed thegate and wall to carry advertisingwhich will amount to “ambush marketing”.Thonga hit back saying its rivalis trying to “stifle legitimate businesscompetition”.
Tembe yesterday brought an applicationto the Pietermaritzburg highcourt for an order to have the gateand its supporting structure removed.
It also wants Royal Thonga stoppedfrom advertising on the wall.
The matter, which is being opposed by the lodge, was adjourned.
Tembe Safari’s director, Ernest Robbertse,said in court papers that itruns a commercial game lodge in thepark, to which access is regulated byEzemvelo KZN Wildlife.
The Tembe community trust hasgiven him the sole and exclusive mandateto develop and operate all tourismbusinesses in the park. Tembe’slodge is situated outside the park.
Robbertse said his objection to thenew gate and advertising wall is becauseRoyal Thonga already has accessto the park through an existinggate. He said the route in the parkhas to pass the new gate and advertisingwill be visible to all visitors.
He added that Ezemvelo has noright to permit the building and openingof the gate without his consent.
“The opening of the new gate willadversely interfere with the applicant’s[Tembe’s] business operations,” hesaid.
Director of Royal Thonga, HlengiweTembe, said in reply that the newgate has been in operation since Novemberand the old gate has beenclosed. Previously, access by his lodgeinto the park was only through thepark’s main gate. However, in terms ofan agreement with Ezemvelo, he wasgiven access via the “old gate”.
This old gate opened to what canessentially be termed a cut line/firebreakor management track. It was an“awkward sandy track and not of thesame standard as the tourist roads”.
“The track was narrow andhemmed in by the border fence onone side and bush on the other. It did not provide easy or comfortable accessto the tourist roads,” said Tembe.
He said access through the newgate was sanctioned for operationalreasons. From Ezemvelo’s point ofview, said Tembe, giving access via thenew gate made more sense as itsstaff finds it much easier to monitorthe lodge’s vehicles.
He said his guests are only allowedaccess into the park on game drivesoperated by his lodge. They have touse the main gate if they want todrive their personal vehicles into thepark. “It would seem that the mainreason behind the application is tostifle legitimate business competition,”he said.
Ezemvelo did not submit any replyingpapers. • [email protected]ness.co.za