Ngidi Msungubana, 25, died yesterday after being repeatedly bitten as he rode the waves off Second Beach in Port St Johns.
His was the latest in a string of shark attacks on the beach, which lies beside the Indian Ocean in South Africa’s rural Eastern Cape province. The incident was the sixth fatal shark attack in just five years at the beach.
Witnesses described how Msungubana fought with the shark yesterday for five minutes before being dragged bleeding out of the murky water by a lifeguard.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said: “The man was surfing and was in water which was only around a metre and a half deep when the shark struck.
“Witnesses who were near him at the time said he wrestled with the shark for around five minutes as the water turned red.
“A fellow surfer then helped a lifeguard to get the man out of the sea and onto the beach.
“There happened to be a doctor on the beach who helped to treat the man at the scene, and an ambulance then arrived to take him to hospital.
“However the surfer had been bitten on both of his arms and his stomach and he sadly died on the way to the medical facility.”
Experts believe a bull shark was responsible. That particular species hunt alone and are famously aggressive.
A team of specialists are said to be studying the spate of attacks at Port St Johns’ Second Beach, which lies along a stretch of largely undeveloped coastline known as the Wild Coast.
Bathers have been warned to steer clear.
Local guesthouse owner and surfing expert Michael Gatcke said: “This is now the sixth attack here in the last five years and people are getting worried about their safety in the sea.
“I can remember the previous attacks clearly – a lifeguard died in 2007 and there were three attacks in 2009.
“There was a fatal attack on a surfer on January 15, 2011, and then this one, exactly a year later.”
He added: “Experts are now saying this is the world’s most dangerous beach for shark attacks and I can believe it.
“The frightening thing is that when you look at the statistics for attacks worldwide, usually only around one in six shark attacks in fatal.
“But here all of the attacks in the last five years have resulted in death.
“It makes you wonder whether the sharks are particularly aggressive, or whether there is some other factor that is causing this problem.
“Whatever the reason, I no longer surf or go into the water.
“I think the local authorities need to do more to tackle the problem and warn people about the dangers.”
Meanwhile public safety chiefs have launched a probe into what caused the spate of attacks.
Kupelo said one theory was that the sharks were attracted to the area to feed on the remains of animals slaughtered during traditional sacrifices.
Yesterday’s death is the latest shark attack in South Africa.
Last September Briton Michael Cohen, 47, lost his right leg and part of his left foot after being savaged by one of the beasts in the sea near Cape Town.