Cape Town - A 29-year-old man has died a tragic death when he was snatched and dragged into the Lake Panic dam in the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga by a crocodile on Wednesday.
Jacques van der Sandt, a deep sea diver from Skukuza, and his friend, only known as Jason, were playing golf at the course by the Lake on the day of his death, reports Netwerk24
Regional ranger Don English said he got a call around 22:00 that someone was taken by a crocodile at the Lake Panic Dam in the golf course area.
"It is understood that a group of youngsters were hanging around after a game of golf when the incident happened," KNP said in a statement.
"Apparently the crocodile surprised the group and snatched the victim, then disappeared under water."
Van der Sandt's friend contacted emergency services after the incident.
Game rangers aiding the search spotted the crocodile in the lake at about 04:00 the next morning. They killed and slaughtered the crocodile in the hopes of finding Van der Sandt's corpse, but were unsuccessful.
Van der Sandt's body was later retrieved without any mutilation, except for teeth marks on his front and back, KNP said.
"These animals are not in good condition as they have just come out of hibernation," SA National Parks disease ecologist Dr Danny Govender said in a joint statement released by Sapa.
"The animal was doing what naturally comes to them; hunting for food and unfortunately a life was lost in the process."
Van der Sandt was the son of retired staff member Schalk and staff member Lorretha van der Sandt. The couple had been working in the park since 1992.
"It is an unfortunate incident where a promising life was cut short; our condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim," KNP general manager of conservation management Dr Freek Venter said.
"Investigations are ongoing to establish the exact circumstances as it was an unnatural death. It is now an SAPS matter and SANParks will conclude its own internal investigation."
The Lowvelder newspaper reported on its website on Thursday that Van der Sandt was attacked by a crocodile said to be 3.9m long and dragged underwater.
According to the report, Skukuza police spokesperson Warrant Officer Oubaas Coetzer said Van der Sandt entered the water at a bridge at the Skukuza Golf Club house's signature hole, number nine, which is played across Lake Panic.
According to his Facebook profile, Van der Sandt was an avid water lover who enjoyed fishing and wildlife and Netwerk24 reports, Van der Sandt was going to ask his girlfriend, Suzelle Wilson, for her hand in marriage soon.