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Zuma loyalist presumed drowned

Durban - “I cannot live without him,” a weeping Thulo Mdletshe, the wife of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) regional chairman Nduduzo Mdletshe, said yesterday.

She took off her life jacket and tried to jump into the Inanda Dam to search for her husband’s body. Thulo was restrained by the police and relatives, as she refused to believe he was dead.

Family members of Nduduzo Mdletshe wait for news of the search operation at Inanda Dam. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo. Credit: INLSA

Mdletshe is thought to have drowned while swimming with friends on Sunday night.

The 40-year-old’s friend Lungelo Radebe, the head of MKMVA fundraising and business, had recently bought a boat and invited them to the dam on Sunday night.

Themba Mavundla, the provincial chairman of the MKMVA, who was also on the boat on Sunday, said they had decided to go for a swim.

“It was very hot. We were swimming together. It was fun,” he said. “Some of us then got into the boat and (Mdletshe) remained in the water. All of a sudden he was struggling to keep afloat.”

Mavundla said they had jumped into the water to help, but it was too late. “He just vanished. We… phoned the police because we couldn’t find him. We made a mistake by not wearing our life jackets.”

Mdletshe made headlines last year when he lay in the road leading to President Jacob Zuma’s house when DA leader Helen Zille and her supporters went to Nkandla.

Mavundla said Mdletshe did not drink or smoke and was an exceptional swimmer.

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said at the scene that paramedics, the National Sea Rescue Institute and police teams had arrived in the morning and marked where Mdletshe was last seen.

Police sniffer dogs and a helicopter were called in.

By 4.30pm yesterday, his body had not been found. The search was to continue today.

Thuthukani Ngozo, the provincial secretary of the MKMVA, said Mdletshe’s death was a huge loss. “He was co-ordinator of the (ANC) centenary celebration torch in the eThekwini region.”

Mdletshe leaves Thulo, two sons and a daughter.

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