Tragedy struck in the late hours of Saturday night when a 45-year-old Zionist priest drowned while conducting a ritual at La Mercy Beach, KwaZulu-Natal.
The priest – from Buffelsdraai in Verulam – had allegedly received a premonition which caused the ritual to be moved from Intaphuka, Ndwedwe to a beach in front of South Beach Road in La Mercy.
There were around 10 congregants present during the ritual who witnessed the priest enter the water at 10pm to conduct a prayer.
“The priest was allegedly bending down in prayer when a wave hit and swept him out to sea,” said Reaction Unit SA (RUSA) spokesperson, Prem Balraj.
CERT, Umhali Saps and RUSA officers were at the scene on Sunday morning.
The congregants attempted to search for the body but were unable to find him in the low-visibility conditions.
At 1.09am on Sunday, a woman from the group phoned RUSA with officers and medics later dispatched to the scene.
“Our officers arrived but were unable to find the body in the dark and it was decided that the search would continue at first light,” said Balraj.
RUSA, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Umhlali Saps Search and Rescue officers restarted the search at 5.15am and the body was found by Sergeant Clinton Odayar of Umhlali Saps at 5.30am.
“As soon as the light was good enough to look properly, the body was located about 20 metres offshore,” said CERT chairperson, Nazir Sadack.
The name of the priest has yet to be released.
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