Death stared him in the eye

A MTHATHA businessman who survived a shark attack at a Port St Johns beach this week told how he wrestled with it while terrified bathers fled the water around him.

Fundile Nogumla, 39, of Zimphunzana in Mthatha said he “boxed” with the shark, raining blows down on its hard-as-a-brick head while it was tearing off pieces of flesh from his arms. He was attacked on Sunday while swimming at Second Beach, which is the country’s deadliest beach for shark attacks.

Nogumla, the eighth person to be attacked there since 2007 and the only survivor, believes that despite his gallant fight it was only through God’s will that he lived to tell the tale. “I boxed a shark and we drew,” he said. “I fought a good fight. As I beat it with fists, it bit off some flesh on my arms, it was like a toe-to- toe fight. A small voice inside me kept on telling me that I won’t die, but must fight strongly.”

Nogumla said while fighting off the shark he screamed for help but no one came to his aid.

“The only help came from God himself who gave me the strength to fight the shark. I came face-to-face with death but God saved me.”

As Nogumla told his story from his Bedford Orthopaedic Hospital bed, he made jokes about the encounter, showing nurses the boxing stances he used to fight off the shark.

But, when asked how he survived, he became serious.

“I just thought, oh God, my children are still young,” he said.

Nogumla and his family had driven from Mthatha to Port St Johns to spend Sunday afternoon on the beach. He said the whole family had swum.

“ My wife and children swam for about 30 minutes while I was looking after our youngest child sitting on the sand,” he recounted.

Although he had initially planned not to swim, when his family came out of the water he joined a group of about 30 bathers.

“I was in the middle of them – not in front, not in the back. The water was waist high.

“After just five minutes in the water there was suddenly this thrashing beside me. I jumped up and as I came down I saw death – a shark with its mouth wide open.”

He said he punched, kicked, prayed and screamed.

“It attacked me three or four times before I managed to run out of the water, bleeding and shaking with fear and praying that I would not die.”

Nogumla urged authorities at Port St Johns Municipality to ensure that such attacks are prevented. “How many have to die before something is done,” he said. —


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