A lifeguard watched in horror as his friend was torn apart by a giant shark off Port St Johns in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
Sikhanyiso Bangilizwe, 25, of Port St Johns, was bitten in half by what is suspected to be a tiger shark while he was catching waves off Second Beach with a friend on Saturday.
He was a member of the Wild Coast Guards and was off-duty. He is the second lifeguard in two years to have been killed by a shark at the Eastern Cape resort.
Police station commissioner Morgan Naicker said the shark had bitten off Bangilizwe’s right arm, shoulder, part of his back and buttock. “This is a relatively safe beach. This is a sad incident.”
Lifeguard Sibulele Masiza was killed by a shark in January 2007. “We assume that Masiza was bitten by a tiger shark, his flippers were found with shark teeth marks, but his body was not recovered,” Naicker said.
Bangilizwe was his family’s breadwinner, said Tshintshekile Nduve, a fellow lifeguard. Nduve said he and Bangilizwe were swimming at a familiar spot on Saturday. “He was catching waves in the water further from where I was and when we passed the waves, I heard his cries.”
“I saw he was in trouble and the shark on him, I saw blood and I went out of the water to get help.”
When lifeguards got a boat into the sea, it was too late, Nduve said. He said he had had trouble sleeping since seeing his friend being savaged by the shark.
“To see him die has made it difficult for me to sleep. I wish I could get pills so that I don’t get troubled. I am not well, but I will continue to go into the water as a lifeguard.”
Vuyo Maza, one of the lifeguards who sped to the scene by boat, said he was at the tower when the attack took place.
Maza said he had not seen such horror before. “When we went out to the water Bangilizwe was dead, his body was badly injured, we could see his insides – it was the scariest thing I have ever seen.”
The shark ripped Bangilizwe’s body into three pieces.
Wild Coast Guards managing director Khaya Mjo said the beach had been closed for swimming after the attack.