Foul play suspected in disappearance of Sodwana Bay skipper and passenger

The washed-up ski-boat, Magnum Too.

The washed-up ski-boat, Magnum Too.

Published Mar 18, 2024


The desperate search for a Sodwana skipper, John Matambu, and another man continues after the charter fishing ski-boat they were last seen in was located wrecked and burnt-out in the vicinity of Dobela on the Mozambique coastline on Sunday morning.

This comes after the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Richards Bay were alerted to concerns on Saturday of a 21-foot Yeld Cat ski-boat, Magnum Too, missing at sea in uncertain circumstances that appear to indicate that foul play may be involved.

With increasing concerns for the safety of Matambu and an unidentified man who reportedly chartered the vessel, NSRI Richards Bay duty crew and NSRI St Lucia duty crew were activated and a search towards Sodwana Bay and north along the coastline was initiated.

The Police Sea Borderline Control, Police Search and Rescue, Transnet National Ports Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, local community security companies, members of the public, local resorts and lodges along the entire stretch of coastline in the area of Sodwana Bay and north of Sodwana Bay came together in search efforts.

NSRI Richards Bay deputy station commander Norman Rautenbach said: “It appears that persons, or a person, a male, that have not been identified, may have chartered the ski-boat that was expected to return to Sodwana Bay during Saturday afternoon.

Real concerns are emerging that appear to suggest possible foul play and concerns are for the skipper John Matambu’s safety and his passenger/s.

“During an extensive search involving multiple agencies and a fixed-wing aircraft the charter fishing ski-boat Magnum Too was located wrecked and extensively burnt-out in the vicinity of Dobela on the Mozambique coastline this morning. Law enforcement agencies’ response teams are on site investigating.

“There remains no signs of the skipper, John Matambu, or an as yet unidentified man who reportedly chartered the fishing vessel,” the NSRI said.

The NSRI had said preliminary investigations sparked fears that the ski-boat may have been involved in nefarious circumstances, as Rautenbach said it was “not normal for this well-known and respected local skipper to fail to report in and/or to return to Sodwana”.

John Matambu

KZN police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala on Sunday confirmed a missing persons case had been registered.

Meanwhile, several messages of support and concern were posted on social media, together with a poster calling for help in finding Matambu, while a WhatsApp group to track progress of the situation had garnered more than 1 000 concerned members by Sunday.

Approached for comment, the Sodwana Bay Lodge said Matambu had worked for himself as well as captaining boats for them.

Authorities are appealing to anyone with information that can assist to contact Crime Stop number 08600 10111 or the NSRI Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at 0870949774.