Missing runner found dead

Thandeka Makhanya. (Supplied)
Thandeka Makhanya. (Supplied)

The body of a woman, who went missing during the KZN Trail Run at Aloe Wildlife Estate near Ashburton on Sunday, was found on Monday afternoon.

The police search-and-rescue unit had joined community members and race organisers in searching for 41-year-old Thandeka Makhanya since Sunday afternoon after realising that she had not crossed the finish line and that her car was still parked at the start.

No visible wounds

On Monday, a helicopter and the K9 unit joined in the search and Makhanya’s body was found along the route in the afternoon. Police sources at the scene said there didn’t seem to be any visible injuries on her body.

One of the volunteers who was at the scene when Makhanya’s body was found, said she was found about 30 metres off the trail in a bushy area.

“Maybe she got disorientated, fell and rolled over, we’re not sure exactly what happened or how she got there,” he said.

He added that there were no visible wounds on her body when she was found.

Others speculated on different community WhatsApp groups that she might have suffered from a heart attack or been bitten by a snake.

Race organisers Lauren and Andrew Booth posted a message on their KZN Trail Run Facebook page notifying the public about the incident.

“We are saddened to announce that one of the runners did not check in at the finish and has subsequently been found deceased at the venue.

“After discovering her vehicle unattended at the venue after the event, we initiated safety protocols and conducted extensive searches ourselves, whilst including the police in the matter. Their search-and-rescue teams were deployed to the area, where the search was intensified by the mounted police, K9 unit and by helicopter.”

'We are all devastated'

Lauren said this was devastating news to her, Andrew and the whole KZNTR team. “We extend our deepest condolences to the runner’s family and friends who have been assisting with the investigation,” she said.

Commenting on the KZN Trail Run Facebook page, Trent Burnett said: “How tragic. So sad that nobody happened to be around to help. We need to make an effort to be more observant and help anyone who may be in need. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.”

Ntuthuko Ngcamu said: “I know the person and we are all devastated. Deepest condolences to family and colleagues at work”.

Said Daniel T. Swart: “Death is so final and always sad for those who are left behind. As a devoted trail runner it would be my perfect dying wish to go and leave this world whilst doing what I love. Hopefully hers was also as I would wish for. Love life. Love what you do. My deepest condolences to her loved ones.”

Attempts to get in contact with Makhanya’s family were unsuccessful.

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