Two locals die in Mozambique air crash

2008-09-22 00:00

Among the seven casualties of the plane crash in Mozambique on Saturday were two residents of Pietermaritzburg who worked for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW). One was an expert in nature conservation and the other a talented designer.

James Wakelin (36) lived in Hilton Road, and Mark Coetzee (47) lived in Chase Valley. They were among six people who died after the private plane in which they were passengers crashed in Beira province of Mozambique.

The pilot and his assistant were also killed in the accident. The aircraft was hired in Johannesburg.

Wakelin, who had a masters degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, was a biodiversity planner for EKZNW.

Coetzee was a manager for the design studio at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. He had qualified at Natal Technikon as a graphic artist.

They boarded the plane in Durban and headed to Beira on a private business trip.

Friends and family members of Wakelin and Coetzee described them as people who were passionate about life and talented in their nature conservation callings.

“The accident shocked the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff. James was a talented ecologist while Mark was a talented artist,” said a close colleague and friend of both men.

The friend had worked with Coetzee since he joined the organisation more than 20 years ago. He had also worked with Wakelin for more than five years.

Roger Porter, who also worked with Wakelin, said his work was focused on protected species. He said Wakelin also worked on conservation planning with various municipalities.

“He was very passionate about nature conservation. He recently delivered a paper at the Pan- African Ornithology Conference in Cape Town on one of South Africa’s most endangered birds, the Blue Swallow. He is seen as the international expert on these species,” said Porter.

A close friend of the Wakelin family, who preferred to be known only as Lyn, spoke highly of Wakelin, who is survived by a 10-month-old son and wife Allison.

“He was a wonderful person who loved life. He was fantastic and loved his family,” said Lyn, who broke into tears during the interview.

Mark Coetzee’s close friend described him as an accomplished wildlife artist. Coetzee leaves behind his widow, Julia, and a daughter and son aged 16 and 21 from a previous marriage.

“Mark had a wide circle of friends across a spectrum of different ages. He touched many lives and had a wonderful sense of humour and a generous personality,” said his friend.

Join the conversation! 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. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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 network.


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.