8 August, 2014 8 August, 2014

Shark Attack Incident Report Released by City

While surfing at Muizenberg with some friends last Friday (1 August, 2014), Matt Smithers was bitten by a great white an estimated 4.4 metres in length. One of the many questions often raised following an incident as serious as this, is whether of course an attack could have been prevented? Or how do we plan to make sure one doesn’t happen again?

These are questions the City of Cape Town ask themselves when investigating an attack such as the one on Smithers last Friday, and yesterday the official Shark Attack Incident Report was released by the City. In the report, which you can read in its entirety here, the City have suggested a number of ways in which beach safety can be improved.

By measuring the bite on Matt’s board, experts claim the shark to be about 4.4m in length.

1. The shark spotters did not see the shark before the attack.
2. The shark spotters did not see the attack itself.
3. This is due to a combination of the distance the victim was surfing from the corner, the direction from which the shark approached the surfers, the depth of the water and the environmental conditions of the day.
4. As soon as the spotter had been notified of the attack standard protocol was initiated.
5. Care, support and immediate first-aid assistance by the public was exceptional.
6. Emergency response by NSRI Simonstown volunteers, CMR paramedics and ambulance and the Red Cross AMS Skymed helicopter was exceptional and of the highest standard.
7. The City Emergency SMS notification system functioned optimally.
8. City officials from a range of relevant line departments were on scene within 20 minutes.
9. All beach closures and protocols worked optimally.
10. Collation of information and witness accounts and contact details was effective and optimal.
11. Of concern however, was the difficulty members of the public had in locating the shark spotter and notifying them that there may be a shark in the area. Visibility to the public of duty spotter on the beach is an essential component of the safety system and this must be improved.
12. Control of the helicopter landing area was not optimal and could be improved

The shark spotter on Boyes Drive was more than 1km away from where Matt was attacked.

1. The shark spotter on beach duty must be clearly visible and accessible at all times to the public. This is essential and needs to be improved.
2. More public awareness and education is needed about the field of view of the Shark Spotters i.e. it is very difficult to see past the Shark Spotters flagpole which is positioned on the northern side of Surfers Corner. Signage in this regard should be considered
3. Within the programme, the more confident individuals must be selected to assume beach duty, undergo extensive emergency response training and be trained to assume control of the crisis situation between the attack and the arrival of emergency services or City staff.
4. Shark Spotters to conduct “shark attack” training exercises to ensure staff are regularly trained in dealing with crisis management.
5. Improved control of helicopter landing area by City officials.

The view from Boyes Drive following the attack last Friday, 1 August.

Contact details:
Greg Oelofse
City of Cape Town


  1. gerald
    10 August, 2014 at 2:32 pm · Reply

    sounds similar to chooning a card guard “wheres my car” when you come back after a sesh and find its missing…
    Ay Baas…angazi…

  2. Andrew Stephen Morton
    21 August, 2014 at 3:33 pm · Reply

    Just saw the spotter a couple of days ago, sitting inside the toilets/change rooms reading a book…so nothing has changed.

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