THE South African Lifeguard Corporation’s Mfanyana Zondi has been applauded for saving two bathers from drowning at an uMhlanga Beach on New Year’s Day.
Zondi, 26, from La Mercy, said he was on duty at his place of employment, an uMhlanga beachfront hotel, when he was called to rescue two bathers who had difficulty swimming because of a dangerous rip current.
Without hesitation, Zondi swung into action, even though he was without his rescue buoy, and still managed to pull one of the bathers out of the water.
Video footage of his daring mission showed how Zondi returned to the water to rescue the second bather, a 16-year-old male, who struggled to remain buoyant.
Zondi managed to bring the bather’s head above water and waited for assistance from a Jetskier.
The rescue mission took a dramatic twist when the craft rolled over at first, but the pilot regained control and the bather was taken to safety.
Zondi said: “When the incident happened, I was at the pool where I am normally stationed, doing lifesaving duties. I was called to assist by people who noticed the two bathers in trouble.“
Zondi said when he got into the water, he yelled instructions to the bathers. He told them to swim across the rip in order to get back to the shoreline. The one heeded Zondi’s instruction and he was taken safely back to shore.
“When I went back the second time, I could see that the young man was on the backline. When I eventually reached him, I noticed that he was distressed and losing consciousness. I got him to do a breathing technique, which helped him gain composure. By then the Jetski reached us,” said Zondo.
Mike Raubenheimer, the director of the South African Lifeguard Corporation, commended Zondo for his bravery and working beyond the call of duty.
Raubenheimer acknowledged that Zondi’s intervention saved the lives of both bathers.
“Normally, lifeguards are given equipment to do rescue exercises, but Zondi did that without any equipment, which was fantastic. This shows his ability to handle himself exceptionally in extreme conditions,” said Raubenheimer.
To be water-safe, Raubenheimer advised that bathers should swim while lifeguards were on duty, and between the red and yellow flags that indicate designated bathing areas.
He said people should refrain from consuming alcohol while swimming.
“Parents must look after their children and keep close to them.”