Fatal end to staff party as man drowns at Saunders' Rocks Beach

The scene along the coast as medical personnel tried assisting the man. Photo: Chelsea Lotz/supplied

The scene along the coast as medical personnel tried assisting the man. Photo: Chelsea Lotz/supplied

Published Nov 30, 2023


A 34-year-old man drowned at Saunders’ Rocks Beach in Bantry Bay in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.

According to witnesses, the man had been out with colleagues for a year-end function at a nearby restaurant.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said police have opened an inquest docket.

NSRI spokesperson, Craig Lambinon, said members of the City of Cape Town’s (CoCT) water rescue network was activated at 7.33pm on Wednesday following reports of a drowning in progress.

The scene along the coast as medical personnel tried assisting the man. Picture: Chelsea Lotz / Supplied

NSRI Bakoven and NSRI Table Bay rescue swimmers, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, CoCT Law Enforcement, the SA Police Service (SAPS), Western Cape Government Health EMS rescue squad and ambulance, and ER24 ambulance services responded.

“On arrival on the scene, a local man, believed to be 34 years old, was in a critical condition from injuries sustained in what appeared to be a drowning accident and was treated by paramedics.

“A bystander doctor and rescue services assisted. Sadly, despite extensive efforts to save the man's life, the man was declared deceased,” Lambinon said.

Witnesses, mother and daughter, Chelsea Lotz and Vida Kozhanow, were passing by the beach when they saw men pulling the body out of the water.

Kozhanow said her mother phoned emergency services immediately as a large crowd started gathering at the top and look down to where the man’s body lie.

“A bystander medic and her friends ran down to help and asked the crowd for a knife so they could cut the man’s T-shirt to make it into a pillow to support his head. A passer-by with a bulldog had a Swiss pocket knife, which he threw down voluntarily. It was clear at the scene that he had hit his head on a rock, rendering him unconscious,” Lotz told IOL.

As Lotz was directing emergency services to the scene, her daughter said the man’s shoes were being removed.

Kozhanow said she was speaking to people, and a woman and her friend who had been seated in their vehicle allegedly stated they witnessed the man jumping, and his head had been in the water for a few minutes.

"In the current state he was in, his face was completely purple, and his head was severely injured. He was unconscious but breathing at the time,” Kozhanow said.

Lotz said she had spoken to one of the deceased man’s colleagues.

“I spoke to his colleagues, and they said that they had just been celebrating at an end-of-year work party at a nearby restaurant.

“They had all been drinking a significant amount. They noticed their colleague wasn’t okay when he said he was leaving; they followed him, but when they found his car was empty in the parking lot, only to find after searching that his body was in the ocean,” she said.

For emergencies, contact the NSRI at 087 094 9774.

*Anyone with thoughts of suicide can call Sadag 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393

[email protected]