Family and friends of one of the two missing students swept out to sea yesterday gathered at Strand Beach. Police and the NSRI were still searching late on Sunday night, but choppy seas and strong winds were making their task difficult. Picture: Ross Jansen/Independent Media
Cape Town - Desperate family and friends stood on the beach in Strand in the vain hope that two students, who disappeared in the roaring waves, would be found alive. They were part of a church group that went for an outing.

The two students, one from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the other from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) disappeared after they entered the water with two female friends.

National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon said a student Christian group from UWC had arrived at the beach and entered the water in what signage indicates to be a no-swimming area. It was some distance from where Strand Surf Lifesaving Club lifeguards were on duty, patrolling a demarcated safe swimming zone in front of the Strand Surf Lifesaving Club.

“On the NSRI’s arrival, it was confirmed that the two females, in their late teens and early 20s, were safely ashore,” said Lambinon. “The EMS Skymed rescue helicopter joined the search, but despite an extensive air, sea and shoreline search no sign has been found of the two males aged 19 and 20, from Venda, missing in the surf.”

Distraught Ernest Hadzhi, father of 19-year-old Aluwani Hadzhi, said he received a call about the incident from his son’s friends. “I was shocked because as a parent, you would expect the university to inform you about such incidents. I am also not satisfied by the lack of communication from the people who are searching for my son. I had to keep going to the police station to be informed how the search was going.

“I was told they were is a no-swimming area, but funnily enough today we still saw people swimming in that same area, meaning the public is not aware of it.”

His wife was too distraught to speak to Cape Argus and the family of the other man are expected to arrive on Monday.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut confirmed that two male students who went swimming at Strand Beach were being sought after they failed to return.

UWC spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “We are deeply saddened by the incident, as we lost a second-year law student and a first-year mechanical engineering student from CPUT.”

Cape Argus