Golf-ball competition ends in croc death

By admin
04 December 2014

The 29-year-old man who died when he was attacked by a crocodile was diving for golf balls at the time, police in Skukuza, Mpumalanga, said on Thursday.

"He was with a friend and the two men had a competition to see who could get the most golf balls out of the water at the golf club's number nine hole," spokesman Warrant Officer Oubaas Coetzer said.

"In the competition they went under [water] three times and then the crocodile attacked. He was found at around 3am with bite marks on his arms and upper body. No body parts were torn off."

The Kruger National Park (KNP) said the crocodile killed Jacques van der Sandt on Wednesday night at the Skukuza Golf Course, adjacent to the staff village.

Coetzer said there was a golf competition earlier on Wednesday and afterwards a group of people went drinking. He said Van der Sandt had a few drinks but there was no one who said he was completely intoxicated.

"We suspect drowning to be the cause of death but the autopsy will determine the actual cause of death," Coetzer said.

"These animals are not in good condition as they have just come out of hibernation," SA National Parks (SANparks) disease ecologist Dr Danny Govender said in a joint statement.

"The animal was doing what naturally comes to them; hunting for food and unfortunately a life was lost in the process."

Van der Sandt was the son of retired staff member Schalk and staff member Lorretha van der Sandt. The couple had been working in the park since 1992.

Regional ranger Don English said he got a call around 10pm that someone had been taken by a crocodile at the Lake Panic Dam on the golf course.

"It is understood that a group of youngsters were hanging around after a game of golf when the incident happened," the KNP said in a statement.

"Apparently the crocodile surprised the group and snatched the victim, then disappeared under water."

The rangers were alerted and after searching the dam for over two hours, spotted and put down the animal.

"It is an unfortunate incident where a promising life was cut short; our condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim," KNP general manager of conservation management Dr Freek Venter said.

"Investigations are ongoing to establish the exact circumstances as it was an unnatural death."

Venter said the matter was handed to police and that SANParks would conduct an internal investigation.

The Lowvelder newspaper reported on its website on Thursday that Van der Sandt was attacked by a crocodile said to be 3.9m long and dragged underwater. The crocodile was apparently seen in the lake earlier in the day.

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