Kilimanjaro expedition leader apologises to Zulu family for his death

Sibusiso Vilane says Gugu Zulu is the first climber he’s lost in more than 15 years of mountaineering.

Zulu Gugu and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: @MbalulaFikile

JOHANNESBURG - The man who led the Trek4Mandela team has apologised to Gugu Zulu's family and the country for the race car driver's death.

Zulu died on Monday morning while on an expedition to summit Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for sanitary towels for disadvantaged schoolgirls.

His wife Letshego was also on the team.

An emotional Sibusiso Vilane has recalled how Zulu complained of flu-like symptoms which are common on the trek.

Vilane says Zulu is the first climber he's lost in his more than 15 years of mountaineering.

"My role is to make sure that I bring back those that you have come to see today back safely and alive. I am very disappointed today (he breaks down), to say that I did not deliver."

He says they did everything they could, with the resources they had, to save Zulu.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula spoke alongside the Nelson Mandela Foundation's Chief Executive Officer, Sello Hatang, and the doctor who was tasked with offering medical care to the team.

Mbalula says there was heroic spirit within Zulu to finish the journey, referring to his Instagram post two days before he died.

The minister has reiterated that Zulu went on the trip voluntarily, in the name of a good cause.

At the same time, Hatang says he recruited Zulu because he believed that this was something he could do.

He added that he was sorry to have not brought him back alive.

He says the foundation hopes to have Zulu's body back in South Africa by Friday.