Tim van Heerden was surfing near the mouth of the Keurbooms River when he was attacked. The shark pulled him off his surf board. He was eventually pulled out of the water by fellow surfers.
“The sea turned red around him within seconds,” said Van Heerden’s close friend Tim Clarke, who witnessed the attack shortly after 9am from the Lookout viewpoint above the surf spot.
Eighteen-year-old Plettenberg local Cameron Payne was with Van Heerden and four other surfers when the shark attacked.
“I was about 20 metres away from Tim. I was just lining up a wave when I heard one of the two Australian guys surfing with us shout ‘shark!’.
“I looked across and saw the shark’s tail thrashing as it churned up the water around him. There was a lot of blood,” Payne said.
Van Heerden,also known as “Tim Boots” in his Plettenberg Bay home town for the handcrafted leather moccasins he produced, died of his injuries and massive blood loss at the Plettenberg Bay Medi-Clinic.
The shark bit his left leg twice, high up on the thigh and in the groin area before letting go and swimming away.
Witnesses said the shark looked like a “small” great white, possibly around 3 metres long.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has since advised bathers and surfers to temporarily abstain from entering the sea in the Plettenberg Bay area.