Community embarks on a search mission for missing field ranger at Kruger National Park

SABC News Kruger National Park - Community embarks on a search mission for missing field ranger at Kruger National Park

The community of Mdlankomo, near the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, has launched a massive search for a field ranger who disappeared at the park three weeks ago. The concerned community has been searching the bush around the park since Checkers Mashego went missing while on patrol in the park.

The Mashego family lives in the small village of Mdlankomo on the southern border of the Kruger National Park.

51-year-old Mashego has been working at the Park as a field ranger for years. Three weeks ago, he went to work and never came home. He was reportedly on a routine patrol along the Nsikazi River when he went missing.

Since then the community has been conducting a massive search in the bushes. The community has many unanswered questions regarding Mashego’s disappearance. Some suspect foul play.

A community member and leader of the search mission, Happy Ngwenyama, says they have been following a number of leads without success.

“We have been worried. As a community, we started searching the day we got (know) that Mr Mashego is missing. We searched all over all these bushes. We went up and down, but up to so far, we have not found anything yet. Yes, we got some little information. A day before yesterday, we had a meeting to go and search in that place.”

The Mashego family is devastated.

Mashego’ son, Pat Mashego, says their mother is not coping at all. “She is crying a lot each and every day. She feels like she can see Checkers Mashego coming back home. She doesn’t have much strength, you know. If you have somebody that stays with you, wake up next to you, there is a picture that comes every day that he might open or knock at the door and say something to her.”

Skukuza Police Spokesperson Jo-Anne Ayanda Mashaba says an investigation is continuing.

“We are still busy with the investigation. Our statements were obtained from all the relevant people. Section 205 was also applied. We have been giving information to the family.”

Meanwhile, the Managing Executive at the Kruger National Park, Gareth Coleman, says they are working together with the police and family in the search.

“We visited the area on numerous occasions looking for traces of where he may be and now the case is with the police and we are giving them all the support to assist in the investigations.”

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