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Body Found At Wortelgat

Issued by Craig Lambinon

Body of child found by Police divers:

Sincerest condolences are expressed to the family of a 12 year old male, from Cape Town, that went missing at the Wortelgat Camp, near Hermanus, in a lagoon.

During an ongoing search operation today a Police Dive Unit scuba dive searched and located and recovered the body of the 12 year old.

The body of the child has been handed into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket. A Police Dive Unit are continuing a search at Kleinmond for a 20 year old male remains missing.

At 15h27, Saturday, 29th November, NSRI duty crew were activated following reports from the Police that they were responding to the Wortelgat Camp and Conference Centre, on the Kleinrivier Lagoon, between Stanford and Voelklip, Hermanus, where a 12 year old male child was missing in the lagoon.

 It appears that the CWD (Catholic Welfare Development) Youth Group from Khayelitsha had brought a group of 36 children (from Langa and Khayelitsha) accompanied by 3 CWD youth group leaders to Wortelgat for a spiritual camp.

It is apparently common at lunch time, according to guidelines stipulated by the Wortelgat Camp Policy, that at lunch time the 4 Wortelgat Camp Leaders leave to go for lunch leaving the children in the care of their own youth group leaders (in this case the 3 CWD leaders).

When the 4 Wortelgat leaders returned from lunch no sign of the children or their leaders could be found which according to the Woretlgat camp leaders is uncommon.

On investigation they found the 3 CWD leaders in their accommodation and enquired where the children were only to be told by the 3 CWD Leaders that they suspected that the children had gone to swim in the lagoon.

The Wortelgat leaders raced to the lagoon where they found most of the children in the water and using floating objects and canoes, that belong to the Wortelgat Camp, and that are normally out of bounds unless the Wortelgat Camp leaders are in attendance.

The Wortelgat leaders rounded up the children but were told by a 12 year old male, who was on a canoe with 2 other children of similar age, that one child, a 12 year old male, had disappeared under water. 

It appears that the canoe had capsized and the 12 year old male survivor had hung onto the capsized canoe and rescued two fellow youths but a 4th youth (the missing 12 year old male) had disappeared under water.

The Wortelgat Camp leaders immediately raised the alarm while beginning a search themselves.

NSRI Hermanus launched the sea rescue craft LE JENMAR II onto the lagoon while Police and NSRI searched along the banks of the lagoon but no sign of the missing child has been found and a Police Dive Unit will continue a search.

Police have opened an investigation.

Kleinmond Tragedy

Then at 17h42, Saturday, 29th November, NSRI Hermanus were activated to respond to Kleinmond Beach following reports of 5 people being swept out to sea.

It appears that 4 local men aged in their early 20’s were in the water when rip currents swept two men away. The 2 friends went after them to try to help them but in the strong rip currents only 3 of the 4 men managed to get free of the rip current before managing to get safely to the beach but the 4th man continued to be swept further out to sea witnessed by eye-witnesses on the shore.

An unidentified bystander then went into the water to attempt to rescue the remaining man who was now over 150 meters out to sea. The bystander reached the man but it appears that both men were now in difficulty and the unidentified bystander appears to have had no choice but to try to rescue himself and he made it to the beach safely but by then the one remaining man had disappeared under water.

EMR (Emergency Medical Rescue), the SA Police Services, WC Government Health EMS rescue squad and ambulance, the Red Cross AMS Skymed rescue helicopter and NSRI Hermanus, who launched the sea rescue craft LE JENMAR II, have searched extensively (an air, sea and shore search) but no sign of a missing male, believed to be 20 years old from Kleinmond, has been found and the man is missing and is presumed to have drowned.

The 4 survivors were checked by paramedics and they were not injured.

A Police Dive Unit have been activated to continue an ongoing search operation and Police have opened an investigation. 

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