Diving centre on Protea Banks tragedy: ‘Impatient media made up their own stories from unreliable and misinformed sources’

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The diving centre whose client died at Protea Banks on Wednesday has spoken out about the incident.

The diving community were rocked by the death of an elderly Austrian diver (not German as initially reported), who had failed to surface from a dive. A massive search operation was launched and resulted in the remains of the deceased diver’s body being recovered.

Diver dies off Protea Banks

Uncertainly continues to surround the incident as the cause of death is not clear.

Beulah Mauz of African Dive Adventures described their client’s death as a “sad loss”. According to the dive master, the deceased was a master instructor with vast experience.

She therefore believes the 68-year-old died due to “medical difficulties”, adding that “there is no proof that the sharks killed him. It is most likely rather a case of posthumous scavenging.”

Mauz detailed the tragedy in a social media post: So many theories and stories have been making the rounds about the sad death of a diver on Protea Banks earlier this week.

We were advised not to make any comments until more information became available, but the impatient media then just gathered whatever snippets of information from unreliable and very misinformed sources and made up their own stories.

Often showing NO respect for the family or their feelings. So much speculation by people who were not even on the dive or anywhere near Margate. It is not always easy to establish what goes wrong when a diver loses his life and this case is no different.

A group of divers doing a Shark Course with Erich Ritter from SharkSchool has been diving with us for just over a week. On Wednesday they were looking forward to spending some time with the early Raggies in the caves on the Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks.

Two boats set off for the reef about 15 minutes apart. Those of you who have dived Protea Banks with us know how tricky the Northern Pinnacles can be, but on this day the surface conditions were great, visibility was rather low but uncharacteristically for Protea the current was slack.

Leopold Mairhuberh the deceased diver had dived Protea Banks before and was a Master Instructor with over 2000 dives. His buddy as well as the Dive Master did not have any reason to be concerned about his safety.

After ascending it was noticed that Leo was not on the boat. The skipper notified the authorities and NSRI, as well as several other boats started a search operation. Sadly Leo’s remains were found by the Search and Rescue team about 3 hours later.

The story that he was a lost diver drifting at sea and got eaten by sharks is just a really sick story fabricated by people trying to damage the diving Industry on the South Coast and find excuses for killing sharks.

It is unlikely that Leo was a lost diver in such mild sea conditions, he would have easily been by spotted by one of the several boats on Protea on this particular day. It is believed that he passed away due to medical difficulties.

His lifeless body did attract sharks but is important to know that there is no proof that the sharks killed him. It is most likely rather a case of posthumous scavenging. The investigation is still on going and we will post more information as soon we have it.

All of you that love sharks as much as we do and dive with them, know that they are not the ruthless killers that the press make them out to be. Thousands of divers from all over the world have dived with all species of Sharks on Protea Banks and never felt threatened at all. We all know very well that they DO NOT deserve the image of senseless killers that they have been labelled with.

We have been in contact with his family to personally pass on our sincere condolences as well as some of the many messages you guys sent us for them. We will make sure that they know how many of you sent them best wishes.

One thing that I have learnt from this extremely sad situation is that no matter how dark things seem there is light…..the light for us has been the amazing spirit of the people of Margate.
You guys have been our rock. SO many of you came to just give me a hug, a cup of coffee, some encouraging word or just stand next to me while we all waited for some news during the search. A little girl gave me a can of coke and a very shy hug…..sorry I don’t know who you are, but your gesture will not be forgotten.

A huge thanks to all the boats that joined the search. I hope that somehow somewhere we will be able to repay your kindness.
Riptide…..Stefnie Fabricius and Evelyn Kelly Jordaan
Aquaplanet……Kym Pollard, Jaco Esterhuyse, Michelle and the rest of the team.
Real Deal
Pelagic Hunter.
Happy Hooker
Tommy Barnard and Brian Moore from the Control Tower. I do not have the right words to thank you and I never will.
Fafa Pretorius and the guys from Search and Rescue. THANK YOU!!!

Jeremiah Jerry Jackson and Antoinette le Roux and the great team from NSRI Station 20 Shelly Beach and NSRI Port Edward…..THANK YOU!!!
Charmaine Galloway and Danelsia Olwagen thanks so much for always being there in difficult times. I hope I will be able to do the same for you one day.

It is always so sad to lose a fellow diver. Somebody that shared your love of the ocean and all it beholds. But for their family it is devastating. Please keep them in your prayers as they try to come to terms with their loss.

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