Dead keeper's true identity a mystery

By -
Dalu with a white tiger at Zion Wildlife Gardens. Photo / File
Dalu with a white tiger at Zion Wildlife Gardens. Photo / File

Thousands knew him as Dalu - the keeper killed by a tiger in Northland.

But he was also known by at least three other names.

Confusion around Dalu Mncube's identity has delayed an inquest into his May 2009 death, after police realised Dalu had used several names and came to New Zealand on a passport that was in his much-younger brother's name.

Dalu Mncube was also known as Clifford Mncube, Dalubuhle Ncube and Darlington Tembo a pre-inquest hearing into his identity was told yesterday.

Mr Mncube was mauled to death by a tiger while cleaning its cage in May 2009.

In her deposition to Whangarei coroner Brandt Shortland, police inquest officer Constable Andrea Magill said the true identity of Mr Mncube had not been confirmed and was unlikely to be.

Police inquiries after his death revealed he entered New Zealand on November 10, 2005, on a South African passport under the name of Clifford Mncube with a birth date of October 7, 1986.

This would have made him 19, when he arrived. In fact, he was actually about 27.

Before his arrival, Mr Mncube worked at The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Krugersdorp, South Africa, where he met former Zion Wildlife Gardens' operator Craig Busch and they became friends.

In October 2004, Mr Busch sent a letter to Darlington Dalu Tembo, offering him a job at Zion.

Mr Mncube came to New Zealand and obtained a work permit to work as an animal handler at the Whangarei-based park.

Ms Magill said police enquiries revealed Mr Mncube had told Zion operator Patricia Busch that his real name was Dalubuhle Ncube and he was born on July 13, about 1975-1978.

As a boy, he said his grandmother had used his younger brother Clifford's passport to get him out of Zimbabwe.

Ms Magill said it was difficult to ascertain the truth about Mr Mncube's family, although it had been reported that he was raised by an uncle named Fati Mpofu.

It was also reported that his mother was Lucy Mncube who lived in Zimbabwe, had a 5-year-old child, Darlington, who lived in South Africa, at least two brothers and one sister and has an aunt, Nomusa Mhindurwa, who is a nurse in Gisborne.

"Immigration New Zealand believed it highly likely that the deceased [Mr Mncube] entered New Zealand on a false passport," Ms Magill told the hearing.

"Investigating police are satisfied that Clifford Dalu Mncube entered New Zealand under the name of Clifford Mncube and became known to his friends and family as Dalu Mncube," she said.

Mr Shortland will release his findings on Mr Mncube's identity in three to five days.

For more articles from this region, go to

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 18 Sep 2014 13:21:30 Processing Time: 624ms