Rangers save elderly hiker in Drakensberg

2014-04-29 09:00
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Snow hits KZN!

South Africa is in for a treat this week as traces of snow have been found on the Drakensberg Mountains and in Lesotho.

Pietermaritzburg - The spot-on intuition of two Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife field rangers helped save the life of an elderly man who was lost and alone in close to zero temperatures in the Drakensberg on Sunday night.

An 85-year-old man was rescued from the Highmoor Reserve by Pinky Dlamini and Michael Nxele who carried him for over a kilometre and a half to safety.

While there was general excitement and joy about the rescue yesterday, the family of Muhammad Khan did not want to speak to The Witness, saying they wanted to keep the matter private.

He was recovering at Northdale hospital on Monday.

Speaking to The Witness on Monday, Dlamini said Khan and his daughter had come for a hike and paid their entrance fee.

She said when it became evident that the man would not cope with the hike, he returned to the camp at around 14:30, asking for a refund but this was refused as he was already in the reserve. She said he had wandered around within the camp for some time before he disappeared.  

It emerged later that he had tried to follow his daughter and her hiking party, but had taken a wrong turn.

Dlamini said after 17:00 when they had closed the camp office, they heard the daughter shouting, trying to find her father.  

"We then realised he was missing. Baba Nxele and I took our equipment and set off to look for him."

She said intuitively they had known which path to take.  

"We headed towards Caracal Cave and found him after about three kilometres at around 19:15. He was close to the path and had seen our torches. He couldn't walk or do anything. He had no strength. Baba Nxele gave him his jacket and I gave him my gloves. Shame, he would walk five paces and stop, so Baba Nxele put him on his back and carried him back, and I helped."  

She said they were met by the members of the search party on their way back.  

"There were so many paths we could have taken, but we just guessed which one he would be on and he was there. His daughter was crying with happiness because he was alive. She was very grateful."

Dlamini said people should walk in pairs always. She also advised hikers to return the same way they hiked out to avoid getting lost.  

Check out our hiking safety tips. 

Nxele said he was very happy they had found Khan. Lieutenant Jack Haskins from the Pietermaritzburg K9 Search and Rescue Unit was elated that the story had a happy ending. Haskins said Dlamini and Nxe'le found Khan dressed only in a tracksuit sitting on the path near Caracal Cave, too exhausted and cold to continue.  

"Michael carried the gent on his back. They then managed to get a cellphone signal and got a message across to us that he had been found. A joint rescue team was formed with Nsele Medical Services, K9 search and rescue and friends. We then hiked in and met the party where Khan was rescued." Haskins said they then carried Khan back to the camp.  

"He was in a stable condition and was taken to hospital. The rescue was completed at 21:30 in very cold conditions. I think it was about two degrees."

Police spokesperson Captain Laume van Jaarsveld was thrilled at the news of a happy ending to the story. "What else can I say but absolutely fantastic. That was great work."

Read more on:    good news  |  travel  |  travel south africa

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