Two die, 1 missing in Jozini luxury houseboat fire
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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) Ravi Pillay will today visit Jozini Dam where a fire on a Shayamanzi luxury houseboat led to the death of a tourist and a crew member.
Police said yesterday that one person was still missing.
By yesterday afternoon, the Shayamanzi Facebook page had more than 200 comments as former guests sent their condolences to the family of the deceased.
Alex Mirschel, using the account of Robert Verbanec, posted on the page: “This is Alex Mirschel, writing on the account of my good friend Robert. Our group was the one on the boat and we lost our father yesterday.
“We lost everything including keys, passports, cards, cash, smartphones and clothes but try to get Daddy’s body back to Germany (sic). The remaining four of us were struggling in the water due to the very rough conditions but we made it.”
Writing in German, Mirschel told friends, acquaintances and relatives that the “four remaining are doing okay” under the circumstances.
KZN police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala confirmed that inquest dockets had been opened at Jozini SAPS.
Gwala said the cause of the fire was still unknown.
“There were nine on the houseboat – four crew members and the other five were German tourists.
She said: “The crew and guests dived into the Jozini Dam when the houseboat caught fire. Six people were able to swim to the shore back to safety, two bodies were recovered, one of a crew member and the other a guest. Another body has not been recovered.”
Edtea in KZN yesterday confirmed that a German tourist and a crew member died after a fire broke out on a Shayamanzi 12-person capacity luxury houseboat.
MEC Pillay, expressed sadness over the deaths and conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased.
“I am deeply saddened by this incident and wish to convey my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
“We welcome the investigation by the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa). We believe it will help shed some light on the cause of the fire. We are also encouraged by the announcement made by the owners of the business that they will support the investigation,” said Pillay.
Pillay will meet the family of the deceased guest to convey his condolences and will also meet the owners of the establishment as part of a fact-finding mission.
A distraught Kim Blevin from Shayamanzi said the company had issued a statement on its Facebook account, adding that the crew members and guests who were on board the houseboat were still shaken.
“We are heartbroken to inform you, that as a result of a fire on Shayamanzi I, a tragic accident has resulted in the loss of life of one of our guests and a crew member,” said Blevin.
The family-owned business confirmed that a second crew member was still missing.
“On behalf of the Shayamanzi team our sincere condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. We mourn with you.”