A PROMINENT Bulawayo businessman is missing, presumed dead, after the devastating tsunami that tore through Thailand’s beach resorts on Boxing Day.
Steve Le Roux (58) and his business partner Clive Baron (68), both Zimbabwean, were staying at the upscale Princess Island Resort at Koh Phi Phi near Phuket on Thailand’s south-west Andaman coast when the giant wave struck on December 26, flattening the resort complex.
Baron, who was badly injured, was airlifted to a Bangkok hospital on Monday. He had been on a respirator for several days. Le Roux is among the thousands still unaccounted for. His sister in Cape Town, Sue Le Roux, has been told by South African medical authorities to assume he is dead. DNA samples have been sent to Thailand.
Sue Le Roux said her brother, who together with Baron owned Cinderella Manufacturing (Pvt) Ltd in Bulawayo, a prominent clothes manufacturing company, had spoken to the family on Christmas Day, saying he was having a relaxing holiday.
Baron, who was out walking near his hotel when the tsunami struck, was knocked unconscious. His lungs were filled with water, doctors said. His legs had been crushed and his body was covered with bruises. He had been rescued by locals and taken to a clinic. From there he was moved to a hospital and then airlifted to the capital.
At one stage he faced amputation of the most badly injured leg. But doctors have been fighting to save it, friends say. His hospital care in Thailand has been “six-star”, they said.
“He is like a brother to us,” Sue Le Roux said of Clive Baron. “Steve and Clive had been business partners for over 40 years. He was like a brother to all Steve’s three sisters. We are only grateful we didn’t lose both of them.”
Sue Le Roux said friends and colleagues in Bulawayo had been wonderful. She thanked them for their “prayers and support”.
“We love Clive dearly and know he will pull through,” she said.
Cinderella Manufacturing, currently closed, is due to reopen later this month.
Former Bulawayo mayor Dr Eugene Gordon said the loss of Steve Le Roux was a blow to the Bulawayo business community.
“Steve was highly-respected and very popular,” Gordon said. “He was an
unassuming person who did a lot of charity work that is not generally known,” he said.