Remember their lives, says Ezemvelo boss of drowned rangers

2012-06-27 00:00

THE families of two rangers who drowned in a Zululand lake will begin preparing for their funerals after both bodies were positively identified yesterday.

Police divers recovered the remains of Mbazwani Mhlongo (57) yesterday, a day after the body of his colleague Phumlani Mthembu (34) was retrieved from Lake Nhlabane, just north of Richard’s Bay.

A relative of Mthembu’s said yesterday his family was distraught.

“They are trying to cope, but they are not doing very well,” said 40-year-old Thembinkosi Ndlazi, whose father was Mthembu’s cousin.

Ndlazi added the family relied almost solely on Mthembu’s salary.

“He was the breadwinner,” Ndlazi said, confirming the funeral was scheduled for Sunday.

Mhlongo’s family could not be reached.

The men drowned on Friday afternoon after they attempted to paddle a dugout canoe across the lake.

They had confiscated the homemade vessel — thought to belong to illegal fishermen — while patrolling the area with two other colleagues, who had walked to a rendezvous point and never saw the pair again.

A police chopper was used in the subsequent search and located the capsized canoe on Monday. Divers found Mthembu in the vicinity soon after.

The search resumed yesterday morning and it wasn’t long before Mhlongo’s body was found.

Lieutenant Jack Haskins of the PMB K9 search and rescue unit said the second set of remains had drifted to the surface.

“We found [Mhlongo] about eight metres from where the canoe was.”

The bodies were taken to the police mortuary in Richard’s Bay where postmortems were scheduled to be performed.

Although cause of death has not been formally established, authorities said the drownings appear to have been accidental.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the provincial conservation body the men worked for, said it would foot the bill for all the funeral costs.

Spokesperson Musa Mntambo said yesterday they were contracting funeral parlours to take care of arrangements.

Mhlongo’s body will be taken to his home in Mkhuze and Mthembu’s remains will be taken to KaNgwanase.

Ezemvelo CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize paid tribute to the men while offering condolences to the families.

“We are deeply saddened by your loss. We trust that we will all cherish the times we spent with the two of our departed colleagues.

“May we remember not just that they died, but that they lived.”

Mhlongo was named Best Field Ranger last year by Mkhize.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.