JOHANNESBURG – The leader of #Trek4Mandela team that climbed Mount Kilimanjaro said he was not proud of himself.
An emotional Sibusiso Vilane told a media briefing at OR Tambo International Airport that he had never lost a climber in all his years of mountaineering.
The team arrived in South Africa from Tanzania on Wednesday evening following the death of racing driver Gugu Zulu who fell ill while climbing the mountain.
“I am very disappointed today to say that I did not deliver. To all the families and friends that I had promised to deliver, I was basing my statement on 15 years of mountaineering,” said Vilane.
Vilane said Zulu had complained of a scratchy throat and showed flu-like symptoms but had said he was fine.
“I have never lost a climber…that’s why I am not proud. We did everything we can with the information and resources we had,” Vilane said.
According to team doctor, Dr Roxanne Schutte, Zulu had shown symptoms that were common for many climbers.
“Gugu complained of a scratchy throat at first and I gave him some lozenges and Vitamin C, and later he said he was feeling fine.
“When I checked on him later, he complained of a post-nasal drip and tender sinuses, but after giving him a Sinutab he said he was fine,” said Schutte.
“On Sunday evening, I heard loud shouts and screaming. Gugu’s breathing was raspy and he was unconscious.
“He left the mountain in a critical condition but I was hoping he would feel better when he (had leftthe mountain). It was a shock to all of us. He had common symptoms like any other hiker,” said Schutte.
Schutte said it was important that people wait for the results of the post-mortem before speculating as to the cause of Zulu’s death.
“Any speculation now is just that, speculation,” she said.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation could not confirm when Zulu’s wife, Letshego, would return to South Africa.
Zulu’s remains expected on Friday
Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO, Sello Hatang, said they were working to have Zulu’s remains brought to South Africa on Friday.
“To South Africa, I’d like to say I’m sorry for not bringing Gugu Zulu back alive,” he said.
Zulu’s memorial service will be held on 26 July at Kyalami Race Course.
His funeral will be held on 28 July at Rhema Church in Johannesburg.