Rescue services fly to Lions Head where a man fell to his death on Sunday. Picture: Ian Bredenkamp

Cape Town - The family of Ebrahim Salie, who died after falling from Lion’s Head on Sunday, believe he may have slipped after moving aside to let a quickly-descending hiker pass him.

Salie was an active member of Pagad’s G-Force and was detained in 2001 and charged with murdering 11 drug dealers. But these charges were later dropped and he was acquitted.

The 47-year-old was on a weekly excursion up Lion’s Head on Sunday morning when the incident happened.

What had started as a day filled with jokes and laughter turned into a nightmare when the Athlone man fell just before the first ladder on the mountain’s trail.

While Salie’s family, including his two brothers and their families, had joined him on the hike, Salie had elected to push ahead with his daughter Fatima, 13, and son Ebrahim, 14.

His oldest brother, Abdullah, an executive member of Pagad, said Salie’s daughter, who was walking slightly ahead of her father, had to move aside to let a quickly-descending hiker get past.

“From what she’s told us, it sounds like this man caused Salie to fall,” said Abdullah.

In an e-mail sent to the Cape Argus, an anonymous hiker said the route had been extremely busy that day.

“I greeted (Salie) just before he started his climb,” said the hiker. “I believe that he moved over to allow someone to pass him, then slipped over the edge.”

Speaking at Salie’s home in Athlone, Abdullah said that Salie was incredibly fit. Just over two years ago, Salie had suffered a heart attack as a result of high blood pressure. He had vowed to beat the disease.

“He had arms three times the size of mine,” said Abdullah. “He was an outdoorsman, there was no way he could just fall.”

The Salie family was still in shock yesterday as friends and relatives came over to Salie’s home to offer their support. Abdullah said Salie’s daughter, who had seen him fall, was distraught.

“It hasn’t sunk in that her father is gone,” he said.

Abdullah said that his brother would be sorely missed by his family.

“He would never have a boy’s night out,” he said. “He would spend every minute he could with his wife and children.”

In an official statement, Pagad saluted the long-serving member: “He was one of the members (we) could always rely on. When mothers called in the middle of the night, seeking help for their sons and daughters, he was the one who would come to the rescue.”

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Cape Argus