DNA tests will be done on human remains found on Hout Bay Beach to determine whether they are those of a Hangberg man who went missing at sea earlier this year.
Police cordoned off parts of the beach on Saturday after a member of the public found the remains.
“We suspect that it can be that person who went missing earlier this year, but we cannot say for sure, and will have to wait on the DNA results,” said Hout Bay police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Syster.
The family of the missing man, a local ski-boat skipper and diver, had been notified, he said.
The DNA tests could “take some time” he said, but added: “If the family decides to go private, then the results will come through a lot quicker.”
Hout Bay Community Police Forum chairman Anthony Chemaly said the missing man had been lost at sea after two boats had collided at night in May.
“I dread these cases. It’s very sad to me that the young men are forced to dive in these treacherous waters in the dark to try and scratch a living. There is something very wrong with a system where people are forced to risk their lives to survive,” he said, adding that he hoped the remains could be identified so that the missing man’s family could “get some closure”.
In May, the NSRI responded to reports of red distress flares spotted out at sea between The Sentinel and Chapman’s Peak.
A search party, including three rescue crafts with NSRI personnel and crew from other fishing boats, a helicopter, and police divers, was unable to find the man who fell into the water when the two boats collided a few nautical miles off-shore of Hout Bay. The two badly damaged vessels were towed to Hout Bay Harbour.
Hangberg community activist Roscoe Jacobs urged people to wait for the DNA test results and not indulge in speculation and rumour.
“This incident is a painful reminder of the plight of the fishing community,” Mr Jacobs said, referring to the case of Durick van Blerk, who was lost at sea in August 2018, allegedly after a clash involving an Anti-Poaching Patrol vessel. Mr Jacobs said questions still hung over exactly what happened in the case (“What happened to Durick?” Sentinel News, November 1, 2019).
Lieutenant Colonel Syster also appealed to the community not to spread rumours.
“We only suspect that it could be the missing man from earlier this year, but nothing has been proven. The community must stop with the stories, especially on social media, and respect that the family are also waiting to find out if this is their loved one or not. People must stop saying and speculating on this immediately and wait for the DNA test to be revealed.”
Hout Bay police were reluctant to release the missing man’s name until the DNA test results had been done.
The man’s family declined to comment.