Pretoria - The family of a Pretoria businessman who disappeared while spearfishing off the coast of Xai Xai in Mozambique has asked the Pretoria High Court to declare him dead.
Adriaan Marais has not been seen since he dived into the ocean on March 26 last year.
His brother, Steven Marais, and his niece, Natasha Scholtz, who were named as the trustees of his estate in his will, asked the court to declare him presumably dead.
Marais, described in sporting publications as being “a true hero of jet ski adventure” and a top spearfisherman, lived on a plot in Lynnwood Road at the time of his disappearance.
In 2006, Adriaan, who, together with a friend, held the Guinness World Record for the longest journey on a jet ski, presumably died in March last year.
The 50-year-old father of two was divorced and engaged to Louise Hartman.
During March last year the couple, together with friends, holidayed at Chizavane Beach in Mozambique.
Scholtz stated in papers before the court that on the morning of his disappearance, Marais, being also a keen diver, went diving with his friend Andries Bester with the intention of doing some spearfishing.
They jumped off a diving boat in deep and unprotected water, about 12km out to sea. After some time Bester could not see or locate his friend.
“Despite a long and frantic search in the surrounding sea and beaches, the body of the deceased was never found. It is submitted that he either drowned and was swept away by the strong current, or that he was attacked by sharks,” Scholtz told the court.
The incident was reported to the local authorities in Chizavane, which issued a report to the court stating that a drowning accident occurred at about 11.30 that day, involving Adriaan Marais.
“It should be noted that the drowning in question resulted in his physical disappearance,” the deputy maritime administrator stated.
Scholtz said Marais, through various trusts and partnerships and in his personal capacity, owned about 34 properties.
During 2009, he gave Hartman internet access to his bank accounts and since his disappearance, she was the only one accessing the account to make payments.
Scholtz said since he disappeared that day, he had not made contact with any person, including his family or friends.
There had been no reported sighting of him by anyone.
“We accordingly submit to the court that, due to the circumstances described, that he died on or about March 26, 2013, in the sea at the beach of Chizavane,” she stated.
The court issued an interim order that Marais be presumed dead. The order has to be published in the Pretoria News and the Government Gazette before it can be made final.
Marais made headlines in 2006 when he and his friend Marinus du Plessis travelled 17 300km across the ocean on a jet ski.
According to Guinness World Records they followed the West Coast of North America to the Panama Canal. They arrived in Panama City after 95 days at sea.