Cape Town Barman May Need TABC to Do His Job, but Not to save People from the Sea

Cape Town Barman May Need TABC to Do His Job, but Not to save People from the Sea

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A barman from the Brass Bell Restaurant and Pub in the town of Kalk Bay, who saved the lives of a group of individuals dragged out by a huge wave, has been crowned a hero.

Tongai Matandirotya sprung into action when the massive wave hit, selflessly taking on the powerful waves completely disregarding his own wellbeing. Per Matandirotya, he saw a few people strolling along the harbor from the window next to where he was serving drinks.

“I saw this wave come over the harbor and it covered the people, dragging them into the ocean. I immediately ran outside, undressed myself, and dived into the water because I saw a child go in as well. I have a very soft spot for kids, and my instinct just kicked in to see if I could help,” he said. 

Matandirotya said that the rip current was much stronger than usual that day, and the water was much cooler, however, he was set in stone to help out those in danger.

“I grabbed my belt from my pants before diving in and used it to pull the people out of the water. When I managed to get some of them to shore, I called for backup as there were still more people in the ocean. Others then dived in and started helping with the rescue,” Matandirotya said.

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Matandirotya expressed only after everybody was securely back on shore, that he noticed that he had scratched himself pretty good against the harbor’s concrete divider. Matandirotya had been a barman for upwards of eight years and had never seen such a wave rise to this magnitude before.

“I still can’t believe what happened, it was such a nice sunny day, and suddenly just after lunchtime, the rip current started,” he added.

Two individuals he saved, Clair Gardiner,  37, along with her little girl Arya van Hilten whose only 8 years old had this to say: “As we walked, a massive rogue wave knocked us into the harbor. Some of the people weren’t able to swim,” Clair said.

She added that another person who seemed to be a tourist likewise dove into the cold waters to assist with saving the group and that Arya didn’t know how to float on her own, and she was starting to panic. They were unable to keep their heads above the water anymore as it was just too strong. When all hope seemed lost, that’s when she noticed a man close to them, and she yelled saying “please take my daughter out to the shore”

He did as she requested, and saved the girl first, at that point she was able to muster up just enough strength to get herself back to shore. Saying “I was exhausted!”

Another individual among the group, Campbell, 75, said all she could remember was that she had been drifting on her back.

“I looked around and realized I was in the water. I panicked! Eventually, I managed to turn over, but I then started sinking. I remember talking to myself, saying God make it quick, I’m scared’. A family member then pulled on my shirt and help swam me back to the surface.” She added that other than her life being saved, she was more appreciative that her grandson wasn’t in the buggy that she was pushing when the huge wave hit her.

Brass Bell restaurant representative Ethan Govender said the staff and supervisory group were rather impressed by Matandirotya’s bravery.

“We cheer him for his courage in acting quickly to save those that fell into the sea. Tongai is a great, loveable, fun individual. His personality says a lot, and we are colossally pleased with the endanger he took in saving lives,” Govender added.