Cape Town - Condolences are pouring in for former Springbok winger Breyton Paulse, whose mother and aunt have been identified as the sisters whose bodies were recovered floating in water at the Ou Hawe Muur in Hermanus.
Paulse’s mother Setta Visagie and her sister Mari Gelant were declared deceased by emergency rescue officials who were part of the National Sea Rescue Institue (NSRI) Hermanus duty crew that responded to the incident involving the pair on Sunday afternoon.
Recounting the rescue operation, NSRI Hermanus station commander Andre Barnard said his duty crew were activated following witness reports of two people appearing to be lifeless and floating in water near the Old Harbour in Hermanus.
Barnard said: “On arrival at the scene, two adult women were located and recovered on to the NSRI rescue craft. CPR ensued as they were being transported to the NSRI rescue station.
“Sadly, after all, efforts to resuscitate the two women were exhausted, they were declared deceased by paramedics. The SAPS were activated and an inquest docket opened.”
Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi confirmed that Hermanus police had registered an inquest for further investigation.
Swartbooi said: “Hermanus police attended a complaint today, Sunday, at the ‘Ou Hawe Muur’ in Hermanus. Upon arrival at the scene at around 3pm, they found emotional family members informing them of two females that were standing on the wall when a huge wave swept them off the wall and into the ocean.”
Paulse confirmed the deaths of his mother and aunt on social media, asking for prayers for his bereaved family.
His aunt’s family in Ceres have asked for time to process the passing of the two women before engaging with the media.
Mari Gelant’s husband Jaffie Gelant said: “My family is still in shock, so we are not able to speak at the moment. Please give us some time.”
Ceres councillor Gwen Franse said: “The community is deeply saddened by the death of the two women. We do not want to overwhelm them, so we will be waiting some time before heading to their home to pay our respects.”
Witzenberg Municipality mayor Hennie Smit said: “The Witzenberg Municipality, especially the Koue Bokkeveld community, are in shock after the tragic news of the death of our Springbok son Breyton Paulse’s mother and aunt.
“The deceased were loved ones in our community and their untimely passing will leave a big void. On behalf of the Witzenberg Council, I would like to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to Breyton and the entire family.
“The Koue Bokkeveld is an intimate family and we want to assure Breyton and the family that we stand behind them.”