South African adventurer, motivational speaker, mountaineer and expedition leader of Trek4Mandela; Sibusiso Vilane, wept repeatedly while narrating the death of car racing champion Gugu Zulu.
The experienced climber held a press briefing at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday after he arrived from Tanzania.
Speaking amid tears, Vilane apologized to South Africa for the death of Zulu, who died while climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.
He said: “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.”
He recalled telling the 40 climbers joining him for the Trek4Mandela expedition how tough Kilimanjaro is and about the difficult terrain they would face.
“It is a tough mountain. You are going to have to dig deep to work your way up to the summit of that mountain,” he recalled.
Vilane broke down in tears again, stating that he felt like he ate Zulu’s life.
“I do feel like I’ve eaten a human. I’m very disappointed to say that I did not deliver to that promise (to bring all trekkers back to South Africa safe and alive). I’m very sorry‚ with the deepest of my heart. It was not meant to be like this,” aggrieved Vilane said.
Sibusiso Vilane Had No Idea Zulu Was Sick
He said he wouldn’t have allowed Zulu to continue climbing the mountain if he had felt his life was in danger or seen any signs of serious illness.
“I didn’t suspect anything. We had no idea Gugu was sick…except the flu‚ which is common. I was stone dead (with shock‚ when he learnt of Zulu’s death).
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I thought I’d wake up and realise it was a dream. I’m very sorry. We’ve lost a friend‚ husband and brother.”
Vilane disclosed that the team was trained and fully prepared before taking on the expedition.