On Sunday, at 7.45am members of the church, the pastor and two men went out to the beach to perform their annual baptism. During this process the men who had been assisting the pastor were swept out by the rip currents. A third person, who is a member of the public, went to assist and is still missing at sea.
Members of the police dive unit recovered the bodies of two men. However, in the afternoon the search for the missing man was called off.
A city law enforcement spokesperson confirmed the incident.
“A drowning incident occurred at Monwabisi Beach Resort on the False Bay coastline where three adult males drowned in a baptism that went wrong. Two church members were having difficulties and a member of the public went to rescue them,” said Wayne Dyason.
Dyason said no lifeguards were on duty at the time of the incident. He said lifeguards report to duty at 10am.
He said the search was called off due to rough seas.
The recovered bodies of the two men were taken by the forensic pathology unit and an inquest docket has been opened.
At the beach, members of the St Paul’s Apostolic Faith Mission waited in hope that all three bodies would be recovered. Many of those present at the baptism ceremony went to wait for updates at the church, including families of the deceased.
Family of Themba Alipheli Klaas, 29, whose body was recovered, said they were deeply saddened and shocked.
His uncle, Masiwakhe Adam, said Klaas had been living at the church for three years and had just started a new job a month ago.
“It is very sudden and unexpected. We are shocked because he is still very young and full of life. His mother in the Eastern Cape is not taking the news well,” said Adam. He added that Klaas worked to serve the church and was a religious person.
A church member, who was supposed to be part of the baptism but did not attend, Lucas Ngomane, said he a bad feeling about the service.
“Our pastor is a sickly person and he is now in hospital. He could not take the shock,” said Ngomane.
Ngomane said each year they performed their baptism ceremony at Monwabisi Beach and nothing like this had ever happened, especially a week before the celebrations of Easter.
“My spirit did not (intend) for me to attend the ceremony. I was supposed to be here. Normally, when we do baptism we go in the water until the water reaches our waist. The pastor then dunks the person baptised three times in the water. It is not dangerous as we have assistants helping the pastor and those baptised,” he said.