Malawian missing in Monday’s cruise boat fire accident in South Africa

The gutted cruise boat

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawian Michael Phiri, 51, who is a chef of a cruise boat, Shamayanzi Luxury Houseboat that caught fire on Monday and claimed two lives, is reported to be still missing.

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A statement today (Tuesday) from that country’s Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu confirms that the tragic accident that took place on Lake Jozini near Pongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal, claimed the life of a German tourist and a crew member.

In her condolence, which did not disclose the cause of the fire, Sisulu expressed deep concern at the continued missing of the Malawian chef.

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According to, the cruise boat owners,  Shayamanzi Luxury House Boats — a long-established family business — also did not indicate what caused the fire and how the Malawi managed to go missing.

In a statement on its website, Shayamanzi Luxury House Boats says: “We are heartbroken to inform you, that as a result of a fire on Shayamanzi l, a tragic accident has resulted in a loss of life of one of our guests and a crew member. A second crew member is missing.

“As a long-established family-owned business, we are devastated and are doing everything possible to understand and support the investigation and impact on our guests, crew and their families.”

A family spokesperson, Kim Blevin is quoted as saying  more communication will be released at a later stage and that family members were out at the scene — “shocked and battling to deal with the unfolding tragedy”.

According to, the affect boat is named Shayamanzi I — a 25 by 8 metre double pontoon houseboat that was first launched by KwaZulu-Natal agriculture and environmental affairs MEC Dr. Narend Singh on October 18, 2002.

Quoting the Shayamanzi website, says “the boat has six en-suite cabins serviced by four crew, two tender boats and an eight-seater jacuzzi.