While the majority of South Africans safely enjoyed their New Year's Day celebrations at the sea or near a pool, some were struck by tragedy, while others were saved by strangers and lifeguards.
Beaches in Table View, Cape Town, were particularly affected by rip current incidents, according to a National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) statement on Wednesday.
In the first incident, which happened at around 14:40, a bystander rescued a local man from the water who appeared to get into difficulty after being caught in a rip current, according to NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.
Lifeguards and paramedics tried to resuscitate the man, but were unsuccessful.
Less than two hours later, around 16:00, a man and woman were reportedly swept out to sea by rip currents at the same beach.
The man apparently went to assist the woman, but got into trouble.
Swept out to sea
They were saved by an unidentified bystander and a German tourist, Igor Obu, who used an NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy.
Around 19:00, a 23-year-old man was swept out to sea by rip currents. Eyewitnesses then saw him disappear under the water.
"He had been swimming with two friends, and they were both able to get out of the surf," said Lambinon.
The man was not found, despite an extensive sea and shoreline search.
The man, from Duduza in Johannesburg, had been on holiday, visiting friends in Cape Town.
Efforts of lifeguards and strangers
At the nearby Small Bay Beach in Bloubergstrand, a 35-year-old man was rescued from the surf, but died after resuscitation efforts failed.
A 29-year-old man in Tongaat also died after he could not be resuscitated at a community pool.
In Richards Bay, an eight-year-old boy was rescued from drowning in the afternoon, but another child's body was recovered a few hours later.
Lambinon conveyed his condolences to all the affected families.
He said that others had been saved at different beaches, thanks to the efforts of lifeguards and strangers.