Shark kills swimmer on 'world's most dangerous beach'
A bather has been killed in the sixth shark attack in six years on a South African beach named as the world's deadliest because of the high death toll caused by the ocean predators.
The 25-year-old man, who has not yet been named, was attacked yesterday afternoon while wading waist-deep off Second Beach in Port St John's, in the Eastern Cape province.
As he swam with friends, the shark struck, virtually severing one arm and causing deep wounds to his chest and stomach. He was pulled to shore by lifeguards but died at the scene.
The attack came on the same day a year after surfer Zama Ndamase, 18, was fatally mauled by a shark as he waited for a wave.
There have now been six fatal shark attacks in six years at Second Beach, on South Africa's southeastern coast, making it the most dangerous in the world for such incidents.
The average fatality rate for shark attacks in South Africa is one in five but in Port St Johns, every single shark attack has resulted in death.
Worldwide, no single other state or country has notched up the same number of deadly shark attacks since 2007 as Second Beach.
Most of the attacks have been carried out by Zambezi or bull sharks, also known as the "pitbulls of the ocean" for their habit of biting and shaking to cause catastrophic injuries.
Locals believe that the sharks are made particularly aggressive either by pollution flooding into the sea from the Umzimvubu River, or because local sangomas – or witchdoctors – sacrifice animals on the beach and throw their entrails into the sea.
Eyewitness Cebo Mafuna was bodysurfing close to the shore when he saw the shark approach the latest victim.
"I was five metres away when I saw the fin," he said. "It was about a foot high but it didn't look like a big shark.
"When it came up out of the water, I saw it open its mouth and saw its teeth. It turned the guy on his side and went for him. He tried to fight it off with his arm but it kept attacking."
He said the lifeguards seemed reluctant to enter the water at first – they have been among previous targets of the attacks – then one waded out and pushed his surfboard out to the victim.
"The water was red all around him," he said. "They pulled him onto the board then used it as a stretcher to bring him to shore but you could tell he wasn't going to make it. The shark had bitten his shoulder and chest down his arm to his elbow."
Captain Mduduzi Godwana, a local police officer, said the man was from nearby Tombo village.
"The 25-year-old man was taken by a shark as he swam with some friends at 3.40pm," he said. "The shark bit off his arm and tore out his stomach. He died instantly."
Michael Gatcke, who runs a guesthouse above the beach, said the community was remembering Zama Ndamase, whom he had taught to surf, a year on from his death when they heard there had been another attack.
"It was a lovely day and we saw a whole load of people swimming and then all of a sudden there was no one," he said. "We rang a lifeguard we know who told us that there had been another attack. I can't believe it's happened again."