Freak wave, currents kill three in Ramsgate, Port St Johns, St Lucia

2011-04-20 00:00

THE body of a man who drowned in bizarre circumstances last Thursday was recovered just off of Ramsgate beach on Monday.

The unidentified man, aged about 30, is believed to be a contract worker originally from Zimbabwe who had been spending the day with friends.

A group of them had been playing football on Ramsgate beach when the ball went into the ocean. He ran into the waves to recover the football and apparently found himself caught in a current that he was unable to resist.

An police search-and-rescue dive team searched the area in vain.

The body was recoverd yesterday at about 2 pm.

Pumzile Makaula of the Margate police confirmed that an inquest docket has been opened and that police are investigating.

• In Port St Johns, a Belgian national who went missing at sea on Monday is thought to have drowned, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said yesterday.

Bavo Verheyden (21) went missing while swimming with his 29-year-old brother Bart, NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said in a statement.

“It appears that the brothers had gone for a swim at the beach adjacent to the Ntafufu River mouth when they were swept out to sea by what we believe were strong rip currents.”

Bart managed to get to shore but lost sight of his younger brother in the large seas. Lambinon said police were searching for him yesterday afternoon. A police helicopter was due to join in the operation.

Bavo, a food science student of Louvain, Belgium, was on holiday in South Africa. His brother works as a doctor in Zeerust in the North West.

• A commercial fisherman drowned and another is missing after a commercial deep-sea ski-boat was hit by a massive wave that swept its entire crew of eight overboard just off the coast of St Lucia yesterday morning.

A two-metre-plus swell crashed in front of the commercial ski-boat, named Bamba Zonke, with enough force to flatten the control cabin.

Gideon Zikhali (47) was confirmed dead and Alex Myeni (35) is still missing. It is thought that he may have drowned. Both men were from the Dukuduku area just outside St Lucia.

The skipper, Dion van der Merwe, who suffered multiple fractures, was discharged from the Bay Netcare Hospital in Richards Bay yesterday with two other crewmen. A crewman remains in hospital. Two crewmen weren’t injured.

The Richards Bay NSRI station commander, Dorian Robertson, said all crew were all wearing life-jackets.

An air search was conducted for the missing crewman and watchers have been set along the coast.

Robertson thanked the people of St Lucia who responded immediately.

“Our base is a fair distance from St Lucia. It was due to St Lucia’s residents’ own action that lives have been saved,” Robertson said.


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