Battlefields legend David Rattray killed

Legendary tourism personality and Anglo-Zulu War expert David Rattray was attacked and killed at his lodge at Rorke’s Drift on January 26, KwaZulu-Natal police said.

His killer entered his house and fired a single shot before being ordered to re-enter the building to fire another two rounds, according to a source close to the scene.

The South African Press Association heard on January 27 that the leader of the gang had ordered the killer to go back inside Rattray’s home, close to his Fugitive’s Drift Lodge, near Dundee, after the first shot was fired.

Only one of the gang had entered Rattray’s home while the others, including the man who appeared to be the leader, stayed outside.

The attackers then fled.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said nothing appeared to have been taken from the house.

He said the gang had first held up the receptionist at the lodge.

Rattray was instrumental in putting the province’s battlefields on the international tourism map.

His widow, Nicky, said in a statement that South Africa had lost a man who spoke to an international audience about, “not only the history of his beloved South Africa, but also about the miracle that he saw us living through today”.

“Tens of thousands of people from Prince Charles to KwaZulu school children have listened to this unique South African deliver his message of nation building and reconciliation.

“This famous son of South Africa now joins the unacceptable list of citizens who have lost their lives to senseless banditing that is engulfing this country.”

Another well-known KwaZulu-Natal historian and raconteur, Kingsley Holgate, said Rattray had been a huge inspiration to him.

“We’ve lost a true son of Africa—and these people aren’t many,” he said.

“How tragic that a man who gave his life to preserving the Zulu culture ... [lost] his life at the hands of the Zulus.

“There will only be one David Rattray.
He’s a true icon.”

He added that Rattray had a way with the local people of his area and was very well respected.

According to the Conference Speakers International website, Rattray was born in Johannesburg in 1958.

He completed his schooling at St Alban’s College in Pretoria, and studied entomology at the University of Natal before managing the Mala Mala Game Reserve.

In 1989, he and his wife Nicky moved to his family’s farm to start Fugitives’ Drift Lodge from where they hosted a constant stream of visitors around the battlefields of Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift.

“His exposure to Zulu oral tradition and his studies of his excellent library have left him uniquely equipped for his vocation as a raconteur, and he has entertained many audiences in South Africa and abroad,” read the website.

It added that Rattray was a trustee of the John Voelker Bird Book Fund and the Siyasiza Trust.

In January 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.—Sapa

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