The burnt out wreckage of the Shayamanzi 1 boathouse, which caught alight on Saturday killing a German tourist and a crew member. One person was still missing. Picture: Supplied.
The burnt out wreckage of the Shayamanzi 1 boathouse, which caught alight on Saturday killing a German tourist and a crew member. One person was still missing. Picture: Supplied.

Search continues for missing crewman after deadly KZN luxury houseboat fire

By Lee Lawler Time of article published Oct 11, 2021

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Durban - Police were continuing their search for the crew member who went missing after the Shayamanzi 1 boathouse caught alight on Saturday killing a German tourist and a crew member.

The burnt-out wreck of the houseboat was towed to the docking site near Jozini Tiger Lodge on Monday, following a visit by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Ravi Pillay, who expressed his condolences to families who lost loved ones.

On Saturday, on the picturesque Jozini Dam, a fire ripped through the Shayamanzi, a 12-person capacity luxury houseboat.

On board were five German tourists and four local crew.

Police said six people were able to swim back to shore safely. Two bodies were recovered and the body of a crew member was still missing.

The cause of the fire is not yet known but the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) was investigating the incident.

While the names of the dead and missing crew members are known, they are being withheld out of respect for the families, The Department of Economic Development and Tourism said.

During his visit to Jozini, one of KZN’s prime tourism destinations, Pillay commiserated with the family of the German tourist, who have since left the province, and the family of the crew member confirmed dead.

Pillay held a meeting with family of the missing crew member and assured them that police were hard in their search.

He also met with the owners of the facility, the police management in the area, and a representative of the local community tourism organisation.

In one of the meetings, the MEC received a briefing from the crew members, who were still clearly distraught about the events that led to the incident.

MEC For Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay, meeting with the owner of Shayamanzi houseboat, Roger Blevin, in Jozini. Picture: Supplied.

He also received a briefing from the local SAPS and from Samsa officials on the investigations that are ongoing.

Pillay said maintaining safety standards remains one of the highest priorities. He said he was pleased Samsa was investigating and would provide a detailed report and recommendations, as this will be crucial in preventing similar incidents.

“I have no reason to believe that this is not an exceptional incident. The maritime industry has high safety standards. We expect the highest safety standards to be observed and there is no reason at this stage to say that they were not observed.”

The owner of the facility, Roger Blevin, told Pillay that in its two decades of operation it was the first time that the facility had encountered an incident of this nature.

Based on the briefing he had received, Pillay said it appeared a fire started and spread very quickly.

“We cannot speculate beyond that. People must take comfort that we have experts like the South African Maritime Safety Authority which licenses these boats on an annual basis,” MEC Pillay said.

Pillay was accompanied by the chairperson of the KZN Tourism Board, Sithembiso Madlala, and the chief director for tourism development in the department, Sibonelo Nzimande.

The officials will tomorrow visit the family of the dead crew member.

IOL

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