Search for golf balls turns deadly as crocodile kills diver

2014-12-05 00:00

MBOMBELA — A professional diver died in the jaws of a crocodile in a dam on the Skukuza golf course in the Kruger National Park on Wednesday night.

Jacques van der Sandt (29) was ­competing with a friend to see who could retrieve the most balls from the water ­hazard.

He met friends at the golf club for their regular round of golf and the group then spent time in the clubhouse.

“Jacques grew up in game parks and was used to crocodiles and hippos. He and a group of friends were at the clubhouse when Jacques challenged his friend, Jason Donaldson (26), to see who could retrieve the most golf balls,” Oubaas Coetzer, a spokesperson for the Skukuza police, said yesterday.

The party moved to the ninth green on the bank of Lake Panic.

“Both took off their clothes, apart from their underpants, and waded in to try and pick up golf balls. On the first attempt, they both came up with two balls, but that wasn’t enough, Jacques said it was ‘all square’ and they must look for more. ­Jason found two more and threw them on the grass,” Coetzer said.

“Jason climbed out of the water, but Jacques told him: ‘That’s not fair, we must look for more’.

“Jason got back in the water and was literally a metre from Jacques when a ­crocodile’s gaping jaws grabbed Jacques on his left side. Jason told me it was ­completely unexpected and the croc ­grabbed his friend very fast.”

Coetzer said Donaldson told him the reptile pulled Van der Sandt under ­“before Jacques had a chance to scream or struggle”.

Donaldson tried to grab the croc’s tail, but the animal had disappeared.

“He wanted to take his prey to the ­deepest part of the dam.”

Some of the bystanders jumped into the water to look for Van der Sandt and the police were called.

SANParks said in a statement regional game warden Don English was called to the scene at 11 pm and the search for Van der Sandt lasted two hours before the crocodile was spotted and shot in the nose in the hopes it would drop the body.

The animal was eventually shot dead and Van der Sandt’s body, covered in bite wounds, pulled from the dam.

“We told his parents, Schalk and ­Lorettha, what had happened and they came to the dam,” said Coetzer.

The postmortem examination found that he had drowned.

Van der Sandt was a professional diver and unmarried. His parents have worked in the game park since 1992.

SANParks ecologist Dr Danny Govender said crocodiles are hungry as they emerge from hibernation. “The animals are doing what’s natural: hunting for food. Unfortunately, a human life was lost.”

Lex Hes, a game ranger and safari guide with 35 years’ experience, said the ­crocodile is a very strong animal and can swim underwater without making a ripple on the surface. He said people must stand at least a metre from the water where crocodiles live.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.