By Ushang Ewa
An unnamed member of the organizing team for the Cross River State sponsored Miss Africa beauty pageant died in Calabar, the state capital during the 2017 edition an investigation by CrossRiverWatch reveals.
The unnamed member is said to be a South African and relative of the fourth wife of President Jacob Zuma, Madam Bongi Ngema-Zuma.
Sources in the South African embassy (which is officially known as a High Commission since both countries are commonwealth countries; colonised by the British) say the organizer fell of the stairs in a hotel where they were all lodged and died with other members of the team asked to keep it under wraps to preserve the integrity of the pageant.
The deceased is said to have slided down the rails in a staircase clearly marked; “For Staff Only” after drinking over half a bottle of whiskey with his friend.
He then fell from the sixth floor of the hotel and landed on the ground floor.
“His friend ran down with the half bottle of whiskey in his hand and said that his friend had fallen from the stair railing,” an embassy source explained.
He was then taken to a private hospital; Arubah along Marian road in Calabar with his family and the South African embassy contacted.
The Hospital referred him to another hospital out of the state but “his condition was not stable to travel, and five or so days later he died,” the source said.
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade is said to have dispatched his Senior Special Assistant on Events Management, Tom Ikpeme and Senior Special Assistant on Web and Social Media, Mathias Amgbah to accompany the body to South Africa on condolence and kept an open line for them to brief him on updates about the situation from SA.
After his death, Mr. Ayade is said to have spoken with the South African ambassador (Officially known as High Commissioner) to Nigeria, Mr. Lulu Louis Mnguni and assured him of his cooperation, promising to send two aides to South Africa to condole the family. However, this could not be verified from both ends as at press time.
A casket was prepared and the corpse flown to South Africa.
Mr. Ikpeme who heads the production of the Miss Africa pageant even posted a picture of him with Mr. Zuma’s fourth wife who is said to be a relative of the deceased on Instagram in January.
The family of the deceased is said to have taken in good faith, the death of their relative as the event surrounding his death was not caused by the state and therefore not deemed a job risk.
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