Gang stabs British tourist on remote South African beach

An elderly British tourist has been stabbed in the face in an attempted robbery in South Africa, the third such attack in less than a month. Norman Green, 69, from Dorset, was cut near an eye after being confronted by a gang on a beach on the south coast of KwaZulu Natal, near the resort town of Margate.

He was taken to hospital in the town after his wife, Cathy, 65, managed to find another family sunbathing in the isolated spot. Mr Green needed three days of hospital treatment but doctors were able to save the sight in the eye.

The attack last week was only two days after a British tourist was gang-raped in a 14-hour ordeal after four men kidnapped her and her South African boyfriend in a remote part of the Kruger National Park. That led to a demonstration in South Africa yesterday calling for severe sentences for criminals who attack tourists.

The attacks will also fuel concern in the country's rapidly growing tourist industry at the levels of violence, which have given South Africa one of the highest crime rates in the world. The country also has an increasingly poor record for road safety.

The Foreign Office has hardened its advice to British tourists since the attacks, stressing the need to avoid isolated parts of the Kruger park and beaches and warning of the high level of HIV/Aids.

Detective Inspector Michelle Pelser, of the South African police, who is based in Margate, said: "Mr Green was stabbed just above the right eye. He also suffered a broken cheekbone and had severe bruising on the face and neck. His wife was treated for shock."

Insp Pelser said Mafantshi Ngilande, 25, had been charged with armed robbery, attempted murder and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. His trial will begin tomorrow so the Greens can give their evidence without having to return. They are due back in Britain by the end of the week.

Yesterday's demonstration was organised by the African National Congress Women's League outside the magistrates' court in the town of Barberton in Mpumalanga province where two of the men accused of the gang-rape appeared in court. Sipho Mbokane and Zimbabwean Michael Dube are accused of murder, rape, abduction and armed robbery. The pair, with Eric Msibi and Willie Mgweneya, are to appear before the regional court later.

Thoko Mabena, the ANCWL chairwoman, said local people could not allow crimes involving tourists to continue. She added: "These type of people must not get bail and should be given harsh sentences ... By killing and attacking tourists they are making us lose jobs."

Last month, Diana Conway, 59, from Wiltshire, was shot dead and her husband, Jon, 55, a retired Army major, seriously injured during a robbery in their hotel at Pilgrims Rest, near the Kruger park.

Four hundred thousand Britons have visited South Africa this year, a 19 per cent increase on the year before. The boom is due to a combination of tourists avoiding some countries because of the 11 September attacks, the low value of the rand, cheaper air fares and South Africa's stunning wildlife and beaches.

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