Onlookers tried to warn shark attack victim
November 16 2004 at 12:32PM
By Terri-Liza Fortein
Tyna Webb, 77, loved nothing more than to slice through the blue sea off Jager's Walk in Fish Hoek, but on Monday her daily jaunt turned to horror when a large shark, believed to be a Great White, took her in its jaws.
On Monday at about 7am André Mentor, 48, was on the mountainside acting as a spotter for the local fishing crew when he saw the shark attack Webb.
"Every morning this woman swims the backstroke, but this morning as she was swimming the shark came to inspect and although we screamed and waved the flag trying to warn her, the shark got hold of her," Mentor said.
Other witnesses on the hill saw the shark speed towards Webb and attack her, then the sea around her fill with blood.
They said the shark had then headed out to sea and she might still have been in its jaws.
Webb's son-in-law Thomas Spies, a local doctor, was at the scene just after 8am.
Spies, who was the first family member on the scene, did not want to discuss his emotions on Monday.
By Monday afternoon, several hours after the attack, Webb's body had still not been recovered and the family prepared themselves for the worst.
While Webb's daughters Isabelle Spies and Ninky Matthee drank tea in the kitchen of the Spieses' Noordhoek home and friends dropped by to offer their condolences, police divers and National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) helicopters continued to comb the area where Webb was attacked.
But there was no sign of her.
NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said: "Tyna Webb is presumed dead at this stage and I think her family has come to terms with that."
On Monday Matthee and her husband Frank, who rushed to Noordhoek from Hermanus after they received news of the incident, said the family was very shocked and traumatised by what had happened.
Matthee said she had two brothers in America who would attend the memorial service. Several other family members were scattered all over the world.
"My mother was an amazing swimmer and she loved nature and being outdoors but the sea was her favourite.
"She lived on her own and was always a very independent person with a very good spirit," Matthee said.
Webb, whose given name was Cecilia Mathilda, was nicknamed Tyna because she was the youngest and "tiniest" of nine children.
She was born in Bloemfontein and obtained a BA, majoring in English and Latin, from the University of the Free State.
She taught in Pretoria and Johannesburg but moved to Cape Town in 1987.
She lived in St James before moving to Fish Hoek in 1989.
Webb's husband Jon Webb died about 11 years ago and she has been living alone ever since.
Frank Matthee described Webb as a very spiritual person who devoted a lot of her time to charity work.
She was also a member of the Fish Hoek Methodist Church and her parish priest, Reverend Ronnie Cawood, said she had been a loved and respected member of the church. She was involved in the church's book club and was also a St Luke's Hospice caregiver. She also contributed to the building of the Methodist Church in Masiphumelele.
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