Kamloops RCMP have confirmed that the body pulled out of the Thompson River is that of Dr. Michael Mthandazo.
The family of the deceased has been notified. The death is not being considered criminal.
Mthandazo was born in Botswana where he grew up before he uprooted his life and moved to South Africa to pursue a medical degree. There, he attended the University of Cape Town, and it is during his internship that he met his wife Julia.
The discovery of the body on Aug. 11 comes on the 11th wedding anniversary of the couple.
“Julia describes Michael as happy go lucky, kind-hearted, always with a smile on his face and someone she knew she could always count on,” said Noha Fossen, organizer of a GoFundMe for the family. “He was calm, funny, and though he was incredibly generous with others, he rarely asked for anything. He was a devoted father and was especially close to his 11-year-old son, Musa, with whom he shared a passion and love for soccer.”
It was on the field, playing soccer, that he was the happiest and would often find solace and comfort there. He was a doting father to eight-month-old Lethu, and often took over the parental role when he arrived home from work, ensuring he was fed, bathed, before putting him down to sleep and opening up his laptop to complete his charts for the day.
The Mthandazo family moved to Canada in January 2014, where they set up roots in 100 Mile House. From there, they moved to Vernon in January 2021 and took over retired Dr. Fred Dyck’s practice and has been caring for thousands of patients since then.
Julia previously worked as a dentist in South Africa, and was actively working towards obtaining her certification in dentistry here in Canada. She has been studying for her exams since March and her exam is scheduled on August 13.
A body was pulled from the Thompson River near the Kamloops Airport on Thursday morning (Aug. 11) and Mounties and the B.C. Coroners Service are working to identify the individual.
Kamloops RCMP responded to the float plane docks off Aviation Way at about 8:30 a.m. for a report of a deceased male caught up in some logs in the water off the shoreline.
The scene was cleared by about 10 a.m.
Const. Crystal Evelyn said police are now working with the coroner to identify the male and notify the next of kin before issuing a media release.
A soccer player from Vernon, Dr. Michael Mthandazo, was recently swept away upriver from the location where body was recovered from.
Police have been searching the river for Mthandazo, who was attending a soccer tournament at McArthur Island on July 30 when he was swept away by a strong current when he and his son went swimming in the river near field No. 7. His son managed to make it out of the water.
Evelyn said she does not want to speculate on the identity of the body.
“You don’t want to create any false hope of the opposite,” Evelyn said. “Whoever it is, is somebody’s family member and we just want to make sure we get the news to them first.”
The Mthandazo family is awaiting confirmation of the identity.
“It is with mixed emotions that we confirm a body was found in the Thompson River near Kamloops Airport,” said Noha Fossen, organizer of a GoFundMe for the family. “At this time, the identity has not been confirmed yet but hope this will provide a bit of closure.”
The GoFundMe has raised more than $30,000 for Julie and her two young sons.
- with files from Michael Potestio, Kamloops This Week