’Plain fishers perish

Deceased Godley Adams, from Woodlands, and Donovan Jeremy Williams, from Lentegeur.

Two Mitchell’s Plain fishermen have died and three others were thrown overboard when their fishing boat capsized off-shore at Rooi Els.

The Mitchell’s Plain fishing community was depending on them to collect up to 2.6 tonnes of lobsters for up to 64 fishers.

Donovan Williams, 48, from Lentegeur, was located in the surf, his body recovered onto a sea rescue craft and was declared dead on the arrival of rescue services after 12.48pm on Thursday November 26.

The body of Godley Adams, 29, from Woodlands, was only retrieved three days later.

The men, including survivors Mr Williams’s twin brother Junaid Williams, 48, from Portland, their brother Monray Williams, 44, from Lentegeur, and Deon Visagie, 46, from Rocklands, have families they provided for.

The Williams family is generational fishermen and have been going to sea since 1930.

Delsha Williams, Monray’s wife, told the Plainsman that the men had survived an ordeal and required counselling.

“The waves bashed them against the rocks and they saw their brothers and friends dead,” she said.

She said Monray had taught Godley to fish since the age of 18.

“He was a very happy chappy. Always with a smile on his face,” she said.

She said it did not matter where they were going to fish, Godley was always ready.

“Whenever the Williams family had fishing rights, we always shared with the other fishermen, who did not have,” she said.

Ms Williams said diver friends of theirs went looking for Godley on Sunday morning and at about 11am they got a call that his body was found.

She said that the surviving men had scratches, bruises and internal injuries, which private doctors and doctors at Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre had assessed.

She also thanked Simon Morgan and Jordana, from Container Bay, who helped the men to shore.

Harriet Williams, cousin of the fishermen, said they had lost many family members at sea.

“This is indeed the life of a born-andbred fishermen and for society to acknowledge that these are people with families and are of the most hard-working workers,” she said.

Ms Williams said fisher families need support, as in cases like these they leave behind their wives and children.

Bridgette Oppelt, Mitchell’s Plain Fishermen’s Forum chairwoman, said the men had just secured the permit on Tuesday.

They went to sea the next day and returned with about 85kg of lobster.

“They returned to sea on Thursday and were about to retrieve their last net when a rogue wave capsized their boat,” she said.

Ms Oppelt said the families of Mr Williams and Mr Adams had lost their breadwinners and the fishing community had lost heroes, who helped put food on other fishers’ tables.

“Everything has to be in order before these men can take to the sea in line with government policies. They did everything by the book but now there is no money to assist their families or to bury them,” she said.

She said the men put everything on the line to help their families and the community.

Ms Oppelt said small-scale fishermen did not earn a lot of money, so did not have insurance and that they had to borrow vessels most of the time.

Craig Lambinon, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesman, said their Gordon’s Bay sea rescue craft Jack and Irene; and the NSRI Kleinmond sea rescue craft Jaytee III were launched and responded to the scene.

“Sea rescue vehicles from NSRI Gordon’s Bay and from NSRI Kleinmond, Western Cape Government Health emergency medical service rescue squad, SAPS, GBMED (Gordon’s Bay Med) ambulance service, Overberg Fire and Rescue Services and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter, with an EMS rescue diver onboard, responded.

A police dive unit responded and a dive search was conducted.”

The body of Mr Williams was taken to the NSRI Gordon’s Bay sea rescue station and then handed to the Western Cape Government Health Forensic Pathology Services.

Mr Lambinon said despite an extensive sea, air and shoreline search on the first day there was no sign of Mr Adams.

Police divers were tasked to continue searching. Mr Adams’ body was retrieved by family friends who are divers three days later.

Mr Lambinon said police have opened an inquest docket.

A memorial service will be held at Alliance Française, 18 Wall Street, in Portland, tomorrow, Thursday December 3, at 6pm. For more information, call Bridgette Oppelt on 073 205 6789.

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