The MEC for Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, said he was absolutely devastated by the fatal boat accident in Richards Bay on Wednesday morning.
Two officials at the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board died, when the boat they were travelling in capsized at Newark Beach.
They, and two others who survived the accident, were servicing shark nets in the area when the waters suddenly became violent and tipped the boat over. One official is still missing.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, Zikalala explained that these were the first deaths recorded at the Sharks Board in more than sixty years.
“We would like to send our sincere condolences to the families of our employees who passed on. We also wish those who survived the ordeal a speedy recovery. Our officials together with the National Sea Rescue Institute and Portnet are currently searching for the missing employee,” said Zikalala.
The next port of call will be to establish why this incident happened, especially when such experienced officials were involved. Is there anything that could have been done to save more lives?
This is what Zikalala knows at this juncture.
“We have been informed that the seas suddenly changed when they were already working thus tipping the boat over – amid being operated by one of our very experienced skippers who had been with the Sharks Board for more than 18 years. He has won a numerous awards for exceptional performance,” added Zikalala.
The Sharks Board will be offering professional psychological counselling to the victims and will work closely with families as they prepare to lay to rest their loved ones as the MEC made the assurance.