Passenger in missing KZN skipper case found and arrested in Mozambique

The search for John 'Matambu' Dercksen continues just under two weeks after he went missing and his burnt charter bout was found wrecked in Mozambique. Picture: NSRI

The search for John 'Matambu' Dercksen continues just under two weeks after he went missing and his burnt charter bout was found wrecked in Mozambique. Picture: NSRI

Published Mar 29, 2024


A massive search campaign for missing Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, skipper John “Matambu” Dercksen, and his passenger by family, friends and concerned members of the public has led to the passenger being found in Mozambique.

This comes after Dercksen, affectionately named Matambu by the Zulu people of Sodwana Bay, failed to return home after taking a passenger out to sea on March 16.

His burnt charter fishing ski-boat, Magnum Too, was discovered wrecked in the vicinity of Dobela on the

Mozambique coastline the next day. Dercksen’s nephew, Michael, and his wife Candice Eilertsen were at the forefront of the search campaign dealing with Interpol, investigators and the public who sent in tips and sightings of the passenger which led to his arrest last week.

Candice said a holidaymaker spotted the man and the family were contacted. “He (the holidaymaker) was instrumental in leading the authorities directly to (the passenger) and refused to accept the reward, stating that good things are done for the good of society, and not for the money.”

Missing KZN Coast skipper John Matambu.

The authorities have advised that over the next few days the correct legal processes and paperwork have to be followed to secure a successful outcome, she said.

“We must give the authorities the time required to arrive at the truth,” she said.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the SAPS has established working relationships with foreign law-enforcement agencies, including the monitoring of the movement and activities of South African nationals arrested abroad.

Mathe said the man was arrested by the Mozambican authorities for violating their immigration laws and should be deported in the near future.

“There is no extradition request for the subject,” said Mathe.

Candice said the family were thankful to everyone who assisted in giving them tips, sightings, love and “an immense amount of support during this incredibly difficult time in our lives”.

“Going forward, we as a family have decided to take a step back, and let the relevant authorities take the lead in getting justice for John, and hopefully answers for our family and everyone who knew him,” she said.

Before the passenger was arrested, she said, the family were in a state of limbo but now they are hopeful that they are closer to finding out what happened.

“We just want answers, our family is sitting in sort of no-man’s land of where is John. Everyone is hoping and praying and wants direction.

The burnt charter boat of Missing KwaZulu-Natal North Coast skipper John Matambu that was discovered burnt in Mozambique. Picture: NSRI

“In a best case scenario Matambu washed up on some beach because he jumped out the boat or whatever and now he is trying to make his way through a forest to find someone. “Then of course there is the other side of just worry and concern that he might never come back and we might never know what happened and that’s a terrible thought to have,” she said.

Candice said the family is devastated and really struggling with Dercksen’s disappearance and need to start the healing process.

The Mercury