A legal secretary is ecstatic that two surfers who put their lives on the line to find her in the waters off Noordhoek beach in Cape Town have been honoured.
Nic Bothma and Abdurahman Farat received letters of appreciation from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) this week for their instrumental role in saving Nazley Davids.
She described the duo, who said they were humbled to be in the presence of people who rescued others on a daily basis, as “truly special people and very inspiring”.
Davids’ family and friends watched helplessly as she was swept out to sea by a rip current and disappeared from view on January 2.
The men went well beyond the wave break to find her, not having any idea of where she was.
“I believe that the Almighty sent them to my rescue and there’s no way to repay what they have done, I sat in the water praying for anyone to help me” she said.
Bothma, a photographer, described the heroic act as the “most natural thing to do”. Having sailed around the world, he said his father had taught him all about the ocean. He felt very comfortable in the water.
“I was quite far out and kept looking for her. There was no way I could go back to the shore and tell her family I have given up and can’t find her,” he said on Wednesday.
The true hero in his eyes was the Port Elizabeth man who found Davids’ washed up bodyboard on the beach and rushed to him for help.
To this day, no one has located the helpful stranger.
“He was talking really fast and out of breath, saying he needed a wetsuit and my help because he had found the board and she had been washed out.”
Bothma offered to help. He rushed to Davids’ family, got them to call the NSRI and then paddled out.
Battling the late afternoon glare on the water to find her, he sat in the rip current and tried to work out where she would have drifted.
“I called her name and was praying. I am not a Christian but I believe in God. So I said ‘God, I am here. Please help me find this person.'”
Eventually he spotted something which looked like a bird.
Farat, an auditing clerk, was surfing nearby and Bothma waved at him for assistance. They then paddled over to the spot and found Davids.
Bothma got her to hold his surf board and gave her his hoody.
“I said, ‘You must be cold!’ She said ‘No, I am just tired. Really tired.'” he recalled.
“She was really clever because she knew she couldn’t fight the rip and that her best defence was to float.”
The men took turns to paddle and push the board. An NSRI boat caught up with them and got Davids out of the water.
Farat, who surfs every weekend and is passionate about the ocean, said he never expected any recognition.
“I am very humbled. I can’t really describe it,” he said.
Davids says the experience has led her to re-evaluate what is important to her.
“There’s also a lesson to be learnt, and that is to never give up and try not to panic when facing a similar life-threatening situation,” she said.
“I’ve been given a second chance. I’m very grateful to the Almighty for it.”
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