Family of missing KZN skipper remain hopeful

The burnt remains of a charter fishing ski-boat called MAGNUM TOO wrecked in the vicinity of Dobela on the Mozambique coastline. Picture: NSRI

The burnt remains of a charter fishing ski-boat called MAGNUM TOO wrecked in the vicinity of Dobela on the Mozambique coastline. Picture: NSRI

Published Mar 20, 2024


Family, friends and members of the public have banded together to search for KwaZulu-Natal North Coast skipper, John Matambu.

Matambu has been missing since March 16. His burnt charter fishing skiboat Magnum Too was found beached in the vicinity of Dobela on the Mozambique coastline on Sunday, with no sign of the skipper or his unidentified passenger.

It is believed the boat departed from Sodwana Bay early on March 16. Candice Eilertsen, the wife of Matambu’s nephew Michael, said they had been managing and dealing with people offering to help and leads coming in.

She said Michael was dealing specifically with the investigators and people who wanted to lead search parties.

Eilertsen said the first search party was initiated by a friend of Matambu who became worried when he failed to return just before 2pm, as usual, on the day in question.

“He got friends to drive up and down the beach and by 3.15pm he had some people in the air in helicopters looking, and then of course, the NSRI got involved.”

She said once the boat was discovered burnt, they were inundated with people offering to help.

“Plenty of people, friends of Matambu, people who he has taken out on charters and people in the area, are offering help (from) helicopters, to accommodation in case we need to go there, to search parties and tracker dogs.”

Eilertsen said Matambu was “adored” by everyone.

“He’s so charismatic, so caring, such an honest and down-to-earth man who has a wealth of knowledge about the sea based on his years of experience.

It's really captivating and very inspirational.”

She said they remained hopeful. “What his colleagues and friends have said is the fact that the medical kit was out and used onshore (unburnt) and not tucked away in the boat, that it had to have been Matambu who got off the boat.”

She said Matambu’s family were distraught and emotionally overloaded, not knowing where he was, especially because it came soon after they lost his mother in August, and his aunt about a month ago.

Cheryl Corneille, in a Facebook post, appealed to people to assist the family, who were in “pain and anguish”, to find him.

“Our family are beyond frantic. It’s tearing our hearts out. John is an absolute fishing legend and probably the most loved human being I know. Please, everyone, we have to find him alive.

Missing KwaZulu-Natal North Coast skipper John Matambu and his charter fishing ski-boat called Magnum Too that was discovered burnt in Mozambique. Picture: NSRI

Please bring him home to his family and to his love, Janine Shaw,” she said.

Cecilia van der Westhuizen said: “The messages of support and private Matambu stories have been heartwarming in this trying time.”

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala confirmed that missing person dockets were opened for investigation at Mbazwana SAPS.

The Mercury