The Blue Rock Resort in Somerset West is a popular family activity destination, known for its water activity facilities and a fun time all around. The resort, however, has been marred by three deaths reported there in under a year, with the latest taking place on Wednesday, January 22.
According to an official statement by South African Police Services (SAPS), a 29-year-old Russian diving trainee was retrieved from the waters there by a fellow diver, but not Blue Rock staff.
“According to reports, the man was part of a divers training school that practice at the resort. No response from the deceased led to one of the divers diving into the waters to assist the deceased. He, however, found the deceased under the water without his dive helmet,” said SAPS spokesperson, Captain FC Van Wyk. “The body was taken from the water and authorities were alerted. An inquest docket has been registered for investigation.”
According to Lukas Reichmurth, owner and director of Blue Rock, the dive training was conducted by a third-party diving school that regularly makes use of the resort’s 60-metre-deep lake.
“The man that drowned was found only five metres deep into the lake,” Reichmurth said during a telephonic interview.
He maintained that as it was a third-party diving school making use of Blue Rock facilities, the resort is not responsible for the safety or wellbeing of those training with the school. “Blue Rock doesn’t offer a lifeguard or anything to the diving school, because it is not our diving school. They use our lake, but we are not a diving school. We offer water cabling and other water activities, but they [the diving school and its trainees] are not our responsibility.”
Reichmurth added that Blue Rock is “not a kindergarten”.
“Our rules say you must be able to swim to come here. This is why you must sign the indemnity form. We are not a kindergarten. We are not responsible for looking after people’s children and when six people drown in Gordon’s Bay, people accept it. I don’t like what people are saying about Blue Rock,” he said.
This is in correlation to the other drownings that have transpired at Blue Rock, but according to Reichmurth, no resort staff attended to the diving school when the trainee drowned either.
During December 2019, Blue Rock Resort made headlines for another drowning that took place there. On the afternoon of Friday, December 13, 2019, a 28-year-old man named Thando Mpande drowned in a Blue Rock quarry after attempting to save another guest who was drowning.
Eyewitnesses reported that there were no lifeguards present at the quarry and this is why Mpande jumped into the water and ultimately drowned.
In March 2018, a 20-year-old named Obakeng Maswanganye also drowned while swimming at Blue Rock with his family. The incident was reported at 4pm in the afternoon, and according to Netwerk24, a spokesperson from the Somerset Police Station stipulated that Maswanganye never resurfaced after jumping into the water with his sibling and another relative.
Again, as there were allegedly no lifeguards on duty, other resort visitors had to come to Maswanganye’s aid. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough. The water was also too deep to properly search without dive equipment – something Blue Rock reportedly has on-site.
In April 2016, a 19-year-old girl from Port Elizabeth also drowned while swimming at the resort’s lake with her friends. It was also reported that there were no lifeguards on duty at the time.
Picture: Blue Rock Resort