Race and rally driver Gugu Zulu dies climbing Kilimanjaro as part of Mandela Day


The Nelson Mandela Foundation has confirmed that racing driver and television host Gugu Zulu died while summiting Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a Mandela Day initiative on Monday.

In a statement, the foundation said the 38 year old race and rally driver, who appeared regularly on DSTV channel Ignition as track tester for the show Ignition GT, experienced breathing problems while climbing the mountain with his wife Letshego, project leader Richard Mabaso and well-known mountaineer Sibusiso Vilane, while taking part in the Trek4Mandela initiative.

He was immediately placed on a drip and taken down the mountain by medical support crews, who were unable to save him. The exact cause of death however remains unknown.

“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,” the foundation quoted its CEO Sello Hatang as saying.

According to his last Facebook post on July 16th, Zulu remarked “Made it through (stet) 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!!”

Tributes have meanwhile continued to pour in social media for the former works Volkswagen rally driver, with Ignition GT presenter Marius Roberts tweeting he only became aware after doing a number of laps around the Zwartkops Racetrack used by the show.

“On track at Zwartkops & just heard news of Gugu’s passing… am in shock! The next hot lap is for you my friend… RIP & thoughts with fam”.

Veteran radio presenter and Formula One guru Sasha Martinengo has said he is “divested” by Zulu’s death, while British stunt driver Paul Swift, who worked with Zulu during the erstwhile Top Gear Festivals held in Durban, tweeted “Saddened to hear of the death of our good friend @GuguZulu this morning. Thoughts with his family RIP #GuguZulu”.

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalulu also expressed shock and sadness at Zulu’s passing with former CAR Magazine editor Hannes Oosthuizen tweeting “Heartbreaking news about Gugu Zulu. Such a lovely, positive guy. South Africa has suffered a massive lost with his passing. RIP my friend”.