Skipper missing at sea: urgent appeal for information

Skipper missing at sea: urgent appeal for information

UPDATE SUNDAY MARCH 17 at 4pm:

NSRI – SODWANA BAY and NORTH – Sunday, 17 March. Search for missing skipper John Matambu continues after the charter ski-boat MAGNUM TOO located:

During an extensive search involving multiple agencies and a fixed wing aircraft the charter fishing ski-boat MAGNUM TOO was located wrecked and extensively burnt out in the vicinity of Dobela on the Mozambique coastline this morning.

Law Enforcement agencies response team are on site investigating.

There remains no signs of the skipper John Matambu or an as yet unidentified man who reportedly chartered the fishing vessel.

Both men remain missing in unknown circumstances.

Thoughts are with the family and colleagues of John Matambu in this difficult time.

It remains unknown what has happened that led to the vessel beaching and found to be completely burnt out.

Police and Law Enforcement, Security agencies and maritime authorities are continuing in an extensive search and investigations to try to locate the 2 missing men and to piece together what has transpired.

We are appealing to anyone with information that can assist Police in this search to contact Police on 10111 and or NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) 0870949774.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

A charter boat captained by a well-known KZN North Coast skipper has gone missing at sea near the border with Mozambique.

The National Sea Rescue Institute said that around 5pm on Saturday March 16, NSRI Richards Bay were alerted to concerns of a charter vessel ski boat MAGNUM TOO, a 21-foot Yeld Cat ski-boat, missing at sea in uncertain circumstances.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said circumstances appeared to indicate that foul play might be involved.

“NSRI are hopeful that this is not the case,” Lambinon said.

The NSRI believed that the ski-boat MAGNUM TOO may have departed Sodwana Bay during the early hours of Saturday March 16.

NSRI Richards Bay duty crew and NSRI St Lucia duty crew had been activated, Lambinon said.

“A search towards Sodwana Bay and North along the coastline were initiated including a private fixed wing aircraft and as yet there remains no signs of the ski-boat MAGNUM TOO with local competent skipper John Matambu onboard and a male passenger or passengers (uncertain) that we are hoping are well and safe.”

A missing persons report had been opened at Mbazwana Police Station.

The SA Police Services Police Sea Borderline Control, Police Search and Rescue, TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority), Ezemvelo KZN Wild Life, local community security companies, local public members, local resorts and lodges, along that entire stretch of coastline in that area, of Sodwana Bay and North of Sodwana Bay, were assisting to gather information, conduct investigations and conduct search efforts, Lambinon said.

MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) were assisting.

Lambinon said, “It appears that persons, or a person, a male, that have not been identified, may have chartered the ski-boat that was expected to return to Sodwana Bay during Saturday afternoon.

“Real concerns are emerging that appear to suggest possible foul play and concerns are for the skipper John Matambu’s safety and his passenger/s.

“We reiterate we are hopeful that this is not the case [but] fears are that the ski-boat MAGNUM, that may have been seen to be heading North, past Banga Neck, and may have been pinned in the vicinity of Inhaca (unconfirmed) – may be involved in nefarious circumstances that are rapidly increasing concerns.”

At 10pm Saturday, a report had been received suggesting the ski-boat may have been spotted as far North as Santa Maria on the Mozambique coastline.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services were broadcasting a marine radio all ships alert for vessels along the Northern Coastline of KZN (East Coast – Indian Ocean), and beyond the South African Eastern coastline border, to be on the look out and to report any sightings of ski-boat MAGNUM TOO.

“Concerns are rapidly increasing,” Lambinon said. “It is not normal for this well known and respected local skipper to fail to report in and/or to return to Sodwana.”

During the night local community and coast watchers had kept a lookout for any red distress flares or any sighting of the missing ski-boat.

Lambinon said: “It appears that the individual/s who chartered the boat may have provided false information as to their identity(this is not confirmed and may be a misunderstanding) – after arriving in the Sodwana Bay area, reportedly, on a motor bike. Efforts to locate the charter passenger/s, the skipper John Matambu and ski-boat MAGNUM TOO remain unsolved.

“We are appealing to anyone with information that can assist Police in this search to contact Police on 10111 and or NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) 0870949774 or MRCC 0219383300.

“Thoughts with the family of the skipper in this difficult time. We are hopeful that the boat, crew and passengers are found safe.”

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