South African rally driver Gugu Zulu dies

    Gugu Zulu and his wife Letshego pictured at the start of their trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.

    Story highlights

    • Rally car driver Gugu Zulu has died
    • Reports state he was hospitalized after attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

    Johannesburg (CNN)Celebrated South African rally driver Gugu Zulu has died following an attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro during a charity event honoring Nelson Mandela.

    A spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation confirmed Zulu was attempting to reach the summit with his wife Letshego when he encountered breathing problems. "Details are sketchy. What we do know is that Gugu experienced problems breathing. The medical team supporting the trek put him on a drip and they descended the mountain with him. We are informed that the medical teams tried everything possible to save his life," they said in a statement.
      The Foundation's CEO Sello Hatang said in the statement: "I am devastated. I recruited him to climb Kilimanjaro. The last thing he said to me at the airport before he left last week was that he wanted to speak about doing other Mandela Day projects. I feel a huge sense of loss."
      Zulu and his wife were among 46 South Africans who took part in the #Trek4Mandela initiative that aims to raise funds to ensure that impoverished girls do not miss a day of school due to menstrual problems.
      Among those who expressed their grief was South Africa's Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula, who said Zulu's death, was "tragic news." SuperSport Presenter Xola Ntshanga tweeted "Take solace from the fact that he was with someone he loved, doing something amazing."
      Twitter user @lebolukewarm wrote "RIP Gugu Zulu who passed away on Mnt. Kilimanjaro, you were an inspiration to many and @AlutaMaqoko wrote: "RIP fastest brother in Africa."
      Zulu, who was sometimes referred to as "the fastest man in Africa," was a three-time winner of the South African National Rally Class Championships in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
      In a media statement, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma extended his deepest condolences. "We are deeply saddened by this tragic and painful incident which has taken place on a day on which we should be rejoicing and celebrating Madiba's legacy," he said. "South Africa has lost an inspirational young man who was not only an adventure enthusiast, but was also passionate about community initiatives aimed at improving the lives of others."
      July 18 is Mandela Day, a United Nations day to commemorate the former South African president.