WELL-LOVED: South African Rally champion Gugu Zulu sadly passed away due to breathing problems while attempting to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Image: Instagram
Cape Town - South African rally champion Gugu Zulu has died while attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, reports said on Monday.
The 38-year-old was climbing Kilimanjaro with his wife Letshego and project leader Richard Mabaso. The team was led by experienced mountaineer, Sibusiso Vilane.
WATCH: #GuguZulu honoured in this touching video
The veteran driver was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as part of an initiative with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
South Africans shared their thoughts on the illustrious driver, affectionately known as 'The Fastest Brother in Africa':
Pierre Arries (pictured below), former teammate of Zulu's and a double SA Rally champion with Volkswagen sent this message to Wheels24: "Gugu was an inspiration. Always humble, he always made time for anyone.
READ: 'We’ve lost a true motorsport gem' - Wheels24 remembers #GuguZulu
He was an inspiration to both young & old across the racial divide & he was very charitable, more often than not challenging himself for the benefit of those less fortunate.
Motorsport & the world has lost a legend, my heart goes out to his wife Letshego, the apple of his eye Lelethu Naledi, his parents Mr. & Mrs. Peter Zulu, his sister Liyanda, the extended family and his many friends. May he rest in peace"
Photographer: Andre Laubscher www.runridedive.com
- Born May 13, 1978
- VW, Audi, BMW driving instructor
- Began racing in 1999, after graduating from Isondo Racing Academy
- Won Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 national championship, winning 13/16 races with two second places
- In 2001 Sarel van der Merwe took him under his wing and gave him the second seat in the inaugural Sasol Steam Team
- In 2001 he also won the Guinness Achievement Award and Wesbank and Goodyear Star of Tomorrow awards.
- In 2003 he joined the SA national rally championship, losing the championship race by one point
- In 2004 he raced overseas in the Skip Barber Dodge Racing Series
- In 2005 Zulu was a stunt driver in the movie Lord of War about the illegal arms trade starring Nicholas Cage.
- In July 2005 he joined the now-defunct Car Torque TV presenting team
- In August 2007 he was appointed as the commercial manager for the South African A1 team
- Affectionately known as “the fastest brother in Africa”
Motorsport South Africa issued the following:
MSA was stunned to hear this morning of the tragic death of well-known and popular motorsport competitor and administrator Gugu Zulu, while climbing Mount Kiliminjaro. Gugu had a background in circuit racing before moving to rallying and he was looking forward to returning to the tarmac next month as a driver in the new GTC saloon car formula. He was also the ‘G’ in GAS Sports, the promoter of the SA National Motorcycle Circuit Racing Championship.
Gugu was a larger than life character, always ready with a quick smile and well-liked by all who came into contact with him. His tragic passing leaves a void that can never be filled and MSA’s heartfelt
condolences go out to his wife and young daughter, as well as to the rest of his family and his many, many friends.
Rest in peace, Gugu, you were one of a kind and will never be forgotten.
The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists issued this statement:
It is with shock and sadness that we have to inform you that South African rally champion Gugu Zulu has died while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Gugu was climbing Kilimanjaro with his wife Letshego and project leader Richard Mabaso. They were part of the Trek4Mandela team climbers. The team was led by experienced mountaineer, Sibusiso Vilane.
Zulu’s last post on his Facebook page was on Saturday (July 16), saying:
"Made it though (stet) Day 2.
"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 climbers were due to summit Kilimanjaro today for Mandela Day.
The Guild extends its heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Letshego Zulu, their daughter Lelethu and the Zulu family in this sad loss.
SAGMJ chairman Bernard Hellberg Jr said: "Gugu was not only a legendary racing driver, he was a friend to everyone and an example of what it means to live your best life. Gugu broke down barriers with his beaming smile and endearing personality, and will be sorely missed by the South African motoring community. Our hearts go out to his wife, Letshego, and his family."