No trace of passionate spearfisherman

2012-04-30 00:00

THE Port Elizabeth spearfisherman who failed to surface while diving off the Zululand coast over the weekend was passionate about his sport, according to his friend.

“Everything that he speared, he made sure that he ate,” Richard Leonard said of Hilton Grove (31) who is feared to have drowned.

“He was a passionate fisherman who loved the ocean and loved everything in the ocean.

On land, Grove did religious outreach work. “He is a Jehovah’s Witness and learnt sign language to teach the will of God to deaf people on weekends,” said Leonard.

Grove was the IT manager at the PE Hotel Group. On Friday he tweeted: “Off to Cape Vidal for the long weekend. Let’s hope the Wahoo and Couta make an appearance. #spearfishing”. On his social media sites, Grove listed his interests as spearfishing, mountain biking and scuba diving. Leonard added that Grove was the sort of person who was game to try out anything.

Grove’s best friend Martin Bosman (33), who had been with him at sea, said neither he, nor Grove’s widow, Lisa, were in a state to talk.

“We are hoping that they find him,” said Bosman. Gletwyn Rubidge, who went diving and spearfishing with Grove in Port Elizabeth, described him as a calm and relaxed man. “He is a good man and skilled in diving,” said Rubidge. “He is talented and once held his breath for six minutes.”

He added that Grove had been involved in spearfishing for approximately two years.

Craig Lambinon, spokesperson for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), said that Grove and Bosman went out on a free-dive spearfishing trip on Saturday morning.

With them were the owner of the boat, Koos Joubert, and his son Jacque-Pier.

The party went diving one nautical mile north of the St Lucia lighthouse and approximately one nautical mile off-shore.

His companions raised an alarm around 4 pm on Saturday, having already started looking for him themselves. Police have opened an inquest docket, said Lambinon.

Meanwhile, on the South Coast, at Port Edward, police found the body of a 70-year-old man in the Umtamvuna River on Saturday.

He has been identified only as G.I. Ntobela.

He had apparently been missing since last week.

• tharuna.devchand@witness.co.za

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