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.
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.
#GuguZulu Vilane says that night Zulu indicated that he was weak and needed energy. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
#GuguZulu Vilane says in the night, Zulu was battling they put him on a stretcher and tried to get him down the mountain. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
Vilane says Zulu is the first climber he's lost in his more than 15 years of mountaineering.
#GuguZulu Vilane says we have lost a brother, father, friend. The entire nation has lost. We had no idea that Gugu was sick, if he was. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
"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."
#GuguZulu Vilane says he's never lost a team member in his 15 years, 19 expeditions. He's not proud of this incident. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
He says they did everything they could, with the resources they had, to save Zulu.
#GuguZulu Vilane says flu symptoms are common, he would never push anyone who is ill. He would have sent him down if he thought Zulu was ill— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
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.
#GuguZulu Mbalula says he chose to climb the mountain, out of the comfort of his home. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
#GuguZulu Mbalula says team leader shouldn't blame himself, it's a tragedy and we should leave all answers for God. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
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.
#GuguZulu Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang says this has been difficult for him. He recruited Zulu for this expedition. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
#GuguZulu Hatang says Zulu wanted to have a coffee to discuss ideas to help others when he got back from Kilamanjaro. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016
He says the foundation hopes to have Zulu's body back in South Africa by Friday.
#GuguZulu Hatang says Zulu's body will return to SA by Friday. Memorial to be held on 26 July, funeral 28 July. GN— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) July 20, 2016