A heartbreaking incident unfolded in the early hours of Thursday morning as the reigning Two Oceans Half Marathon champion, Mbuleli Mathanga, was discovered dead in Ndwedwe, located to the north of Durban.
Authorities confirmed the opening of an inquest docket following the grim discovery of Mathanga, who was found hanging from the laces of his running shoes.
According to the Ndwedwe police statement, it is alleged that a dispute had taken place between Mathanga and his girlfriend, culminating in the tragic event.
Alongside the discovery of Mathanga’s lifeless body, an open wound was reportedly found at the back of his head.
At just 29 years old, Mathanga’s untimely death came as a devastating shock to the South African running community.
He had been scheduled to participate in the Hollywoodbets Durban 10km race that was set to take place on Sunday.
Mathanga’s athletic achievements had been remarkable, with titles such as the South African 10,000m champion in 2021 and 2022, along with representing his nation at the African Championships in Mauritius in 2022 and the world cross-country championships in Australia earlier this year.
He had also secured victories in prestigious races like the Inkamana 10km in Vryheid in February 2022, the 2019 Gun Run 10km in Cape Town, and the Durban 15km in 2018.
Most notably, he triumphed in the 2023 Two Oceans half-marathon with a time of 1:03:58.
Internationally, Mathanga had earned recognition by finishing third in the Roma-Ostia half-marathon in October 2021 and held the KwaZulu-Natal 5,000m and 10,000m records.
The tragic news of Mathanga’s passing was also shared on the Two Oceans Marathon’s social media account, where organizers extended their deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow runners, acknowledging the profound sorrow that enveloped this loss.
It is with deep sadness that we have been notified that our 2023 Half Marathon champion, Mbuleli Mathanga, has passed away this morning.
Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, running mates, and Phantane club mates at this deeply challenging time pic.twitter.com/f2hTYZikkT
— Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon (@2OceansMarathon) August 31, 2023
The sudden and tragic death of Mbuleli Mathanga is a profound loss not only to the running community but to all who knew him, and our hearts go out to those who mourn his passing.