File picture: Supplied

Sedgefield - Three children were rescued and the body of their father has been recovered from the Swartvlei in the Southern Cape after the boat they were fishing from capsized, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said on Saturday.  

NSRI Wilderness duty crew were alerted at 9.45pm on Friday night to reports of a 45-year-old Cape Town man missing in the Swartvlei, the lake at Pine Lake Marina between Sedgefield and Knysna, NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said.

Earlier, the father and his three children - two girls aged 16 and seven, and a five-year-old boy - reportedly on holiday in George and visiting friends at Pine Lake Marina launched a small boat they had hired from a private boat rental company that operates from the slipway onto Swartvlei to go fishing at around 4pm.

"When they hadn’t returned by nightfall the man’s wife and friends raised the alarm and it appears civilians launched a search using jet-skis," he said.

During their search, reportedly at about 8.30pm, they found the three children swimming to shore, with only the boy wearing a life-jacket although it had been reported that they had all been issued life-jackets. All three were brought to shore.

"Nurses, reportedly on vacation at the resort, treated the children for hypothermia and shock. The children reported that earlier the boat that they were on had capsized. They had lost sight of their dad and they started to swim to shore," he said.

The civilians using jet-skis reportedly continued to search for the missing father and NSRI Wilderness was alerted at 9.45pm. NSRI Wilderness duty crew with two NSRI rescue craft, a police dive unit with a police boat, Western Cape health emergency medical services (EMS) and the EMS rescue squad, Knysna/Sedgefield fire and rescue services, and Sedgefield community orientated police (COP) all responded.

At about the same time, Pine Lake Marina management and staff and Pine Lake Marina security staff were reportedly also alerted and assisted in the incident. 

An extensive water and shoreline search commenced and the two sea rescue craft and the police boat launched onto Swartvlei, and the civilians on jet-skis were arranged into assisting NSRI and the emergency services in a coordinated sweeping line search and grid search.

"The family, the wife and the three children, were transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance in the care of paramedics, suffering from shock. During an extensive search in the early hours of Saturday morning the body of the man was located and recovered and the body has been taken into the care of the forensic pathology services.

"Police have opened an inquest docket. The small boat and the remaining life-jackets have not been located. NSRI and the emergency services have conveyed condolences to family and friends," Lambinon said.

African News Agency/ANA