South African race driver Gugu Zulu has died on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Zulu and his wife were two of 46 South Africans who were attempting to summit the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

He was rushed to hospital on Sunday when he experienced breathing problems.

They were hoping to reach the highest peak in Africa on 18 July – Mandela Day.

The expedition, under the banner of Trek4Mandela, was to create awareness around challenges facing impoverished girls in rural areas and poor schools during their monthly cycles.

The money raised will buy sanitary towels for needy girls across the country to ensure they do not miss school.

Zulu won the SA National Rally Class Championships in 2007, 2009 and 2010. He also won the Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 national championship and has a Guinness Achievement Award under his belt.

He has also won the Wesbank Award and Goodyear Star of Tomorrow Award.

Nelson Mandela Foundation statement:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce that one of the climbers on the Trek4Mandela, Gugu Zulu, lost his life {on} Kilimanjaro early this morning before summiting.

On behalf of the board and staff of the Nelson Mandela Foundation we extend our sincere condolences to his wife Letshego Zulu, their daughter Lelethu and the Zulu family on this tragic loss.

Details are sketchy. What we do know is that Gugu experienced problems breathing. The medical team supporting the trek put him on a drip and they descended the mountain with him. We are informed that the medical teams tried everything possible to save his life.

Gugu was climbing Kilimanjaro with his wife Letshego and we understand that they both descended the mountain together with Richard Mabaso, the project leader and the medical teams. The team was led by experienced mountaineer Sibusiso Vilane.

Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said, “I am devastated. I knew him well. I recruited him to climb Kilimanjaro. The last thing he said to me at the airport before he left last week was that he wanted to speak about doing other Mandela Day projects. I feel a huge sense of loss.”

This was Gugu’s last post on his Facebook page on 16 July:
“Made it though (sic) day2. My wife is doing fabulous, she has even learnt the local language. Am having flu like symptoms and struggling with the mountain but taking it step by step!!
Today we managed to see our destination and our camp is literary above the clouds!!”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation will share more information once we get further details from Tanzania.

The climbers were due to summit Kilimanjaro today, for Mandela Day.



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