I'm sorry - emotional Sibusiso Vilane on Gugu Zulu

2016-07-21 08:10
Loved ones greet at OR Tambo after the arrival of the Trek 4 Mandela team. The group made an emotional arrival after the death of Gugu Zulu. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Loved ones greet at OR Tambo after the arrival of the Trek 4 Mandela team. The group made an emotional arrival after the death of Gugu Zulu. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Expedition leader and experienced climber Sibusiso Vilane broke down in tears on Wednesday evening, repeatedly apologising to the country for the death of car racing champion Gugu Zulu while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Vilane told a harrowing tale of his last moments with Zulu.

Vilane had just arrived from Tanzania when he held a press briefing at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday.

Vilane began by explaining how he told 40 climbers who would be joining him for the Trek4Mandela expedition about the difficult terrain they would face.

He said he explained to all the climbers that they were going up a tough Kilimanjaro.

“It is a tough mountain. You are going to have to dig deep to work your way up to the summit of that mountain."

'I am very sorry'

Vilane said he then promised families and friends of climbers that his role was to ensure that everyone was back home safely.

"I am very disappointed today to say that I did not deliver on that promise. I was basing my statement on my 15 years of leading expeditions... I hoped that I was going to impart my experience to lead all the 40 climbers safely down that mountain. I am not very proud of myself. All I can say is (that) I am very sorry with the deepest of my heart to the Zulus and the little baby and his lovely wife... I am disappointed and sorry to the country."

Vilane said he told the team that during the five days, “if anything happens that is health related to please tell me or the team doctor.”

Vilane said during the first days of the expedition he asked Zulu how he felt.

"I asked him how he was, he said, 'I'm ok... I suspect there is some flu creeping in'."

With tears rolling down his face Vilane said he did not see any signs of an illness. "For me he was still cheerful."

Altitude

Halfway through the climb, after walking for eight hours, Vilane said he told the group they may exhibit signs of illness after reaching an altitude of 4 700 metres.

"I found Zulu sitting down... I thought he was becoming emotional for the achievement."

He said he asked the team doctor Roxanne Shutte, if there were any health issues and the doctor told him Zulu was weak.

"Roxanne never picked up symptoms of anything. She said she would recheck if Zulu was going to be sick.”

As Vilane was about to rest he said he heard a commotion.

“Roxanne said he is still alive but I need him to get down this mountain as soon as possible," he said.

Vilane said a stretcher was arranged to carry Zulu down for medical assistance.

He said the group that stayed behind while Zulu was taken down with his wife Letshego by his side.

Prayers

"I went to the tent and prayed. I said dear lord I pray he does not get worse... Throughout the night I did not sleep... We heard no word of what our brother and sister were going through.”

Vilane said the group continued the climb not knowing that Zulu was still struggling to get help.

“We were not aware up until the time of us being near the summit that they were still trying to make their way down, they had never found any help," Vilane said as he wept. 

He said after completing the summit the group walked down and one of the climbers pulled him aside.

"I didn’t suspect anything. He says Zulu is no more. I went stone dead. I didn’t say anything. I was hoping that this is a dream but it was not a dream." he said.

"I’ve never had a wink, I’ve never slept until today," Vilane said.

Vilane said he had never lost a climber before after leading 19 expeditions in 15 years.

"We did all that we could possibly do with the information we had with the information we had... We had no idea that Zulu was sick," he said.

Read more on:    gugu zulu

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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
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.