South Africa

Five drownings across SA mar finish to the festive season

Five drownings across SA mar finish to the festive season

Five people, including two children, drowned in separate incidents across SA at the weekend, the National Sea Rescue Institute reported.

On Friday afternoon, the service's Richards Bay duty crew launched their rescue craft to search for a 14-year-old girl who had disappeared under water while swimming 50m offshore at Bay Hall, near Pelican Island.

The rescuers could find no sign of the girl at the scene. Her body was discovered a short time afterwards by SAPS divers.

Across the country in the North West, the NSRI duty crew at Hartbeespoort Dam and its Strategic Rescue Unit were asked to help the SAPS search for a nine-year-old boy who went missing while playing with friends on the banks of the swollen Tholwane River in Madikwe, northwest of Rustenburg.

The boy had been swept away by currents late on Fridayz

“Search efforts, hampered by the swollen river, remote and difficult barely accessible terrain, were joined by community members,” said NSRI Hartbeespoort Dam station commander Arthur Crewe.

The crew of a SAPS chopper that had also been roped into the search, discovered the boy's body floating in the river 8km downstream from where he had been swept away.

Then, on Saturday morning, an NSRI Gordons Bay coxswain who lives in a block of apartments in Strand, was alerted by the caretaker that a man was floating in the swimming pool.

The coxswain rescued the man, a 60-year-old resident, from the pool and began CPR. Private ambulance services also arrived on the scene but were unable to resuscitate the man.

The victim is suspected to have suffered a medical emergency while swimming, the NSRI said.

The same day across False Bay at Glencairn, the NSRI's Simon’s Town crew and City of Cape Town's water rescue network responded to eyewitness reports of a drowning in progress at Glencairn Beach.

A large team of rescuers including NSRI personnel, Cape Medical Response, Fish Hoek Lifesaving lifeguards, provincial government emergency medical services, the city's fire and rescue services, and SAPS responded to the call-out.

“An NSRI trainee crew member [who] was at the beach at the time, had launched into the water with an NSRI pink rescue buoy after being alerted to a commotion where bystanders were pointing towards a man being swept out to sea in rip currents,” said NSRI Simon’s Town station commander Darren Zimmerman.

The NSRI swimmer reached the 46-year-old man in the surf zone but found him showing no signs of life, said Zimmerman.

“Using the rescue buoy to aid flotation the current swept them further out to sea where they were both hauled aboard the sea rescue craft.

CPR efforts began on the boat and continued once he had been brought ashore at False Bay Yacht Club but to no avail.

The same afternoon at Monwabisi Main Beach, also on the False Bay coast, eyewitnesses told lifeguards on duty that a man's body had been washed ashore on the eastern part of the beach, the NSRI said.

NSRI lifeguards and personnel from the Strandfontein station, the SAPS and government emergency services arrived on the scene.

Despite “extensive” CPR efforts, the 37-year-old man from Mfuleni could not be resuscitated. 

Police are investigating all incidents.