Brave swimmers to tackle Jozini Dam Gorge crossing for CHOC

The eight kilometre long swim up the Gorge, which separates the Lebombo and Ubombo mountain ranges, will start at the entrance to the Gorge and finish at the Tiger Lodge at the Jozini dam wall.

The group is made up of Mike Oberholzer, Ruth and Jay Azran, a South African couple who currently live in Swaziland, Andrew Stevens, a South African living in Australia, and Mauritian Jose De Charmoy.

“What makes this swim so unique is that the dam is flanked by private wildlife reserves as well as the Pongola Game Reserve. Wildlife abound in the area including the infamous tiger-fish, hippo and crocodiles,” says Jay Azran.

The initiative is the brain-child of Ruth Azran who has lost both her mother and brother to cancer.

‘’About three years ago, following the death of my mother, I decided that one day in their honor I would swim the length of the gorge,” says Ruth Azran.

“That time has now come, and I am truly fortunate to have my husband and three very competent other swimmers join me on this challenge.

“I chose to do it for CHOC because it is a cause that is very close to my heart, especially in our younger generation and I really liked their fundraising component called the COWS. We will be sporting our cow costumes and swimming caps on the day and give it our best shot,” she said.

“We definitely all share some nervous anticipation for the swim, but feel confident that we have done sufficient training,” added Jay Azran.

The venture has been backed by a number of local businesses, including Tiger Lodge, Royal Jozini Private Game Reserve – Swaziland, Cycad Rock Lodge, Shayamoya Game Lodge, White Elephant Safari Lodge and Nimue Skin Technology.’

So far nine support boats with some eagle-eye scouts have been organised to assist in deterring wildlife. The swim is due to start at 9am and should take about three hours to complete.

Financial pledges can be made online at

More information can be found at

About The Cows
The Cows were started in 2008 by a group of eight enthusiastic cyclists keen to make a difference and raise funds for CHOC. Cordi van Niekerk was one of the founder members and joined Kerrin and Grant Bain in cycling the 94.7 Cycle Challenge in memory of their little daughter, Jessica, who had recently died from cancer at just 20 months old.

As CHOC had played a significant role in the Bain family’s life in the last few weeks of Jessica’s life, specifically with palliative care and emotional support, the decision was to make CHOC the beneficiary of their quest. They decided to don cow suits and succeeded in raising R230 000.

In 2009, the herd gained momentum and grew to an incredible 140 energetic cows. Just two years later the herd numbered a staggering 350 cows all riding for a purpose. Armed with the ‘Love Living Life’ slogan and a healthy dose of enthusiasm, the herd has enjoyed much success and acclaim.

Ten later, hundreds of people have participated in events wearing cow suits. The Cows have just broken through the R29 million mark of funds raised for specific projects implemented by CHOC and The Cows brand is prominent in many sporting events in South Africa. With these funds, CHOC is able to make a difference to the children being treated for cancer throughout South Africa.

One herd; one quest: to make a difference to children with cancer. Love Living Life!

More information can be found at

(From left) Jay Azran, Ruth Azran, Jose de Charmoy, Andrew Stevens and Mike Oberholtzer are the five brave swimmers ready to swim the length of the Jozini Gorge to raise money for the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation.


Heidelberg Nigel Heraut

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