A mother and her daughter who were among the people swept by a strong rip current while walking along the Kalk Bay harbour, are thankful to the barman who risked his own safety to save them. The barman, Tongai Matandirotya suffered minor injuries while trying to help those who were swept to sea during the incident that happened Friday afternoon.
He was serving drinks at the Brass Bell Restaurant and Pub near the harbour when he saw the incident. Matandirotya who has been a barman for the past eight years says he saw a huge wave cover people and dragging them into the ocean. He quickly jumped to action, using his belt to pull people out of the water but had quickly dive in when he saw that a child was among the people in the water.
He undressed and dived into the water adding that the rip current was very strong that day and the water was cold but he was determined to help.
“When I managed to get some of them to shore, I called for backup as there were still more people in the ocean. Others then dived in and started helping with the rescue,” Matandirotya said. It was only after everyone was safe that he realised that he had hurt himself badly against the harbour’s wall.
“I still can’t believe what happened, it was such a nice sunny day, and suddenly just after lunchtime, the rip current started,” he added.
A woman and her eight-year-old daughter who were among those who were those rescued by Matandirotya said they decided to go watch the seals after having lunch at the White Bait restaurant when a massive wave suddenly hit them and knocked them into the harbour.
“It was hectic. When you’re in the moment, it’s much more dramatic. All I remember was grabbing my kid when I knew we would go over into the sea. I wrapped my arms around her and managed to get us safely away from the heavy waves,” said Clair van Hilten.
Just before Van Hilten reached the shore she realised that she could not hold onto her daughter any longer, that’s when she called for help. At the time she didn’t realised that the man who saved them was a barman at one of the restaurants.
“I recently went to the restaurant to thank him. My daughter recognised him immediately, and we all embraced each other. We are so thankful to Tongai and the tourist man who risked their lives to save ours; we’ll forever be grateful to them,” she added.
Another victim of the massive wave, elderly Angela Campell who was visiting family in Cape Town had decided to take a stroll along the harbour and before she knew it she was in the water scared for her life as she can’t swim. She said she was grateful to Tongai and the people who pulled her over the harbour wall to safety.
Brass Bell restaurant Spokesperson, Ethan Govender applauded Matandirotya’s bravery while the victims thanked the staff who had called an ambulance.
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Picture: Cape Town ETC