The only creature visible in the water at Kogel Bay on the morning of Freedom Day yesterday was a lone great white shark that swam in the bay for a short while before moving further along the coastline towards Gordon’s Bay.
A red flag with a white shark, indicating a high shark alert, was hoisted at Kogel Bay after the shark was spotted at 11.35am by Monwabisi Sikweyiya, a sharkspotter who was deployed on the steep mountain cliff above the Kogel Bay “Caves”.
He was deployed following the shark attack that killed 20-year-old member of the South African bodyboard team, David Lilienfeld, at the Caves last Thursday.
The shark seen by Sikweyiya yesterday was one of seven sharks spotted along the False Bay coastline by 2.15pm yesterday, the city council warned.
“The sharkspotters have hoisted red flags and cleared the Caves in Kogel Bay, Glencairn, Fish Hoek and Muizenberg,” said council’s disaster operations head Wilfred Solomons-Johannes and its environmental head Gregg Oelofse in a statement yesterday.
After Lilienfeld’s death the Caves, in a small cove between Rooi Els and Gordon’s Bay, was closed.
It re-opened briefly yesterday, and then closed again.
Nobody had entered the water while it was open.
The shark swam among some seals and “there was a seal jumping in the air right next to it,” said Gabriel Ellison, the Weekend Argus photographer at the scene, who also saw the shark.
“It was a great white and it just swam past from left to the right following the coastline until it disappeared.”
Sikweyiya, who has been a sharkspotter since 2004, said a sharkspotter would remain at Kogel Bay this holiday weekend between 9am and 6pm each day.
He did not expect surfers there yesterday as the sea was flat.
Among the handful of people on the beach were a group of boys from DF Malan High School and a couple of youth workers.
“I’d surfed here so many times as a youngster. I wanted to show them the beauty of the place where the attack happened,” said one of the youth workers, Wouter Swart.
In its review following the death of Lilienfeld, the City of Cape Town confirmed sharks were frequently seen in the area especially between August and May.
The report said: “The area is well-known for great white shark presence and sightings by surfers at Caves are regularly received.”
Two great whites had been seen in the area an hour before the attack and a breaching shark was reported two weeks before the attack, the council said.
During the attack at about 12.30pm at the popular surfing area, Lilienfeld’s right leg was bitten off and he died in the water.
Lilienfeld and his 18-year-old brother, Gustav, had been in the water for about ten minutes, 70 to 100m from the shore, when a shark made three passes at David Lilienfeld, striking him the third time before moving away from him.
“The victim was motionless, indicating a severe attack that left the victim helpless and led to his almost immediate death. Gustav, who was body-boarding with him, tried in vain to reach and assist his brother. The two were however separated by strong wave action,” the city council report said.
“As he was unable to reach his brother, Gustav Lilienfeld left the water.
“The shark was seen swimming in the area for at least 40 minutes after the attack. The waves and the current washed the body of the victim towards the shoreline.”
The only other surfer besides Lilienfeld to have been attacked by a shark at Kogel Bay since the 1950s, Sergio Capri, told Weekend Argus he suffered sleepless nights every time a shark attack occurred.
Capri, who was bitten in the leg and on the back by a great white shark in 1999, said: “Psychologically, I was a bit warped after the attack.
“Although I started surfing again three months afterwards, it’s traumatic every time another attack happens.
“I’m angry that nothing is being done. I believe there’s a chance the shark-cage diving and chumming can cause loss of life,” said Capri, whose life was saved by a fellow-surfer who brought him safely to shore.
“Chumming should be stopped. Life is a basic human right.” - Weekend Argus