South Africans mourn the loss of adventurer Gugu Zulu, President 'deeply saddened'
President Jacob Zuma and the ruling party on Monday joined South Africans in expressing their condolences on the passing of renowned racing driver and television presenter Gugu Zulu.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic and painful incident which has taken place on a day on which we should be rejoicing and celebrating Madiba’s legacy,” said Zuma, referring to Zulu’s passing on International Mandela Day.
“South Africa has lost an inspirational young man who was not only an adventure enthusiast, but was also passionate about community initiatives aimed at improving the lives of others. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Zulu family and wish them strength at this most difficult time” he said.
Zulu, 38-year-old veteran racing driver and television presenter was part of the annual Trek4Mandela expedition which was readying to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on Monday. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, en route, Zulu experienced breathing difficulties.
The Foundation’s spokesperson Neraan Naidoo said Zulu had trouble breathing but the full circumstances of his death were, at the time, unclear: “Details are sketchy. What we do know is that Gugu experienced problems breathing. The medical team supporting the trek put him on a drip and they descended the mountain with him. We are informed that the medical teams tried everything possible to save his life.”
Zulu’s wife Letshego Zulu was also part of the expedition which aims to raise funds and awareness for the Caring4Girls Programme.
The African National Congress (ANC) said they had learnt of the news with immense sadness.
“Zulu was an accomplished and celebrated racing driver who won many racing titles,” said ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.
“In Zulu, we have lost a man of sporting excellence who lived his life to inspire and motivate others by always breaking new boundaries and always giving his best performance.”
Kodwa said that as it was Mandela Day, it was pertinent that South Africans be reminded of the late statesman’s words on sportspeople, that “[they] are our treasured possessions, jewels in our country’s crown. They will know that their triumphs are celebrated by the entire rainbow nation whose banner they have raised high amongst the nations of the world”.
Kodwa added that the ANC extended its condolences to Gugu Zulu’s wife Letshego, their daughter Lelethu, and the entire Zulu family at large.
“We pray with them for strength during this difficult time,” he said.
Other prominent figures expressing their shock and sadness on Zulu’s passing include Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula, renowned South African mountaineer Saray Khumalo, radio personality Ashraf Garda, and Democratic Alliance spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme.