A Port Elizabeth police reservist has died in hospital from pneumonia, weeks after returning from a boat cruise to Mozambique.
While his family said he had been tested for the coronavirus and that the results had come back negative, the health department said on Thursday that he had not been tested for the virus as he did not display any of the symptoms.
Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Liziwe Ntshinga said she was shocked at the sudden death of 40-year-old Siyabonga Ntamo, who had been a police reservist for years.
Ntamo, a father of five children aged between two and 18, joined the Despatch police reservists in 2005. He transferred to the Port Elizabeth Flying Squad in 2013, where he had been ever since.
Ntshinga said Ntamo had won the National Reservist of the Year award two years in a row, in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.
“On March 12, he was admitted to the hospital complaining of severe headaches and pneumonia,” she said.
“On March 18, he passed away in hospital.”
“His departure has sent shock waves throughout the corridors of the organization, where he was dearly loved.”
Ntamo worked closely with Warrant Officer Severiano Blundin, 33, who won the country’s top cop award in January.
Blundin also won the national Tracker Award and the National Policeman of the Year award in 2016/2017.
Part of his latest prize was the weeklong cruise to Mozambique, which Ntamo had accompanied him on.
The boat docked in Durban on February 21, as news of the global coronavirus outbreak was hitting the headlines.
According to police officials, Ntamo started feeling ill while still on the cruise but dismissed it as seasickness.
However, he started feeling worse on his return home.
One official, who works closely with Ntamo but did not want to be named, said Ntamo had been admitted to the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital after experiencing severe headaches and coughing, among other symptoms.
“They [his family] told us he had been tested for [the coronavirus] and that it came back negative,” said the policeman.
“He was originally moved from a private hospital in Port Elizabeth to Livingstone Hospital in Uitenhage — all within a few hours.”
Ntamo died on Wednesday morning.