Shark Attack at Clifton Beach

Weekend Argus, 27 November 1976: A YOUTH aged about 17 was badly mauled in a shark attack at Fourth Beach, Clifton, this afternoon before the eyes of horrified onlookers.

The victim is a Mr Jeff Spence of Highlands, Johannesburg, who is doing his naval training at Simonstown in the submarine Maria van Riebeeck.

He was swimming with a friend and a fellow trainee, Mr R.M. Nell about 200-300 meters from the beach.

Two students of the South African Merchant Naval Academy at Granger By, Mr Peter van Gysen and Mr Peter Kitt, who pulled the youth from the water, described the incident to a Weekend Argus reporter.

They said their boat the Howard Davies, was moored at Fourth Beach and they were going ashore in a dinghy when they heard shouts of “Shark, Shark”.


They saw two young boys in the water, one of whom was swimming towards the beach while the other appeared to be struggling.

They went to him in the dinghy and pulled him aboard and took him straight to the beach.

The youth had been bitten on the back and on one arm. An ambulance was called and he was given treatment on the beach, including a saline drip by a doctor who lives in Clifton.

Three of the doctors who attended the victim before the ambulance arrived said the injuries appeared serious.

Lifesavers immediately ordered all bathers out of the water and within seconds the sea was cleared.

A National Sea Rescue Institute launch was called out to patrol the seafront and the Fourth Beach lifesavers radioed for reinforcements to help them control the crowd.

Soon after the attack three men took off in a armed with a gun to took off to hunt the shark.

One man dived into the water to put down bait while the other two kept watch.

Any eyewitness, Argus reporter Lynne van Sanfen who lives at Third Beach said screams were heard coming from a bather who was swimming far out at Fourth Beach near the yachts.

The water around the youth was red with blood, she said.
A rowing boat hurried to the scene and occupants pulled the victim aboard.
By the stage hordes of bathers were lining up the water’s edge.

The victim was lifted out the rowing boat on to the sand and given first aid treatment.
When the small boat was overturned to be washed out the surf was stained with blood.

Another eye witness of the attack Mr Kenny Findberg of the Bidge Clifton, saw a similar account of the attack.

He said it was difficult to determine how badly the victim was injured, “but the sea around was a mess of blood”.

A spokesman for the Clifton Lifesaving Club said this was the first attack of its kind at Clifton since 1947.

Published in Weekend Argus, 27 November 1976, “Shark Attack At Clifton” By Weekend Argus Reporters

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  1. [...] later the media arrived, including representatives from the Weekend Argus and the [...]...

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