Durban - An afternoon swim by a father and his son at eMdloti’s main beach turned tragic on Tuesday when they encountered difficulties and the son disappeared in the strong currents.
Shocked witnesses said they had seen the missing 22-year-old man wave his hands frantically as the waves pounded him close to the shore at about 1pm.
Two lifeguards went to their aid and one of them, Xolani Dladla, rescued the father, but they were unable to find the son.
eThekwini Municipality spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said the pair had got into trouble in a no-swimming zone.
Xolani Mthethwa, a regular at the beach, said he was driving past when he saw a lifeguard sprint along the beach. The lifeguard had spotted the pair in the water from the lifeguard tower at the tidal pool.
“It was pure heroism. The lifeguard jumped in and pulled the elderly gentleman out and on to the beach,” he said.
“We watched the surf line for the man as he drifted away and was dragged down by waves. He popped up above the water and then disappeared along the coast.”
Surfers also tried to search for the man, who it is feared may have become wedged under a rock.
Police search and rescue teams and municipal lifeguards scoured the beaches on Tuesday in the hope that the body would surface.
However, the search was called off after three hours and was to have resumed on Wednsday, according to police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane.
Police have withheld the identity of the father and son.
Netcare 911 spokesman, Chris Botha, said their paramedics had stabilised a man before taking him to hospital.
Meanwhile, at the Lifesavers’ Club, Dladla, 33, said he was not allowed to speak to the media. Rescues were part of the job he had been doing for 16 years, was all he would say.
But Mthethwa, who witnessed Dladla in action, said he must be commended for doing a good job.
“People should not be swimming in no-swimming zones. It is such a tragedy,” he added.
A sign on the beach advising of surf conditions on Tuesday warned bathers of strong currents, recommending that they stay on the shore at all times.