Police divers were praised after recovering all five bodies of the rugby players from the Motherwell Rugby Football Club who drowned a week ago.
Human settlements, safety and liaison MEC Helen Sauls-August said the police divers displayed bravery while operating under difficult conditions.
The Port Elizabeth players were swept out to sea after reportedly having a swim to cool down following a training session in preparation for an Easter rugby tournament in Cape Town.
On Saturday, police divers and National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) members found the last missing body near the Sunday’s River mouth.
Sauls-August said the divers showed bravery and worked under difficult weather conditions, but still managed to find the bodies.
She said the character and courage shown by the officers during the Bluewater Bay tragedy is what they envisaged for the entire police service in the Eastern Cape.
Sauls-August also sent her condolences to the bereaved families. “The entire province is mourning with the families because it’s a huge loss to all of us. We want them to know that our thoughts are with them during this difficult time,” she said.
Meanwhile, NSRI volunteers in Port St Johns had to be called at the weekend following reports of two men being swept out to sea on a double sea-kayak at the Umzimvubu River mouth.
“The river was in flood with horrendous seas and muddy waters being swept out of the river mouth at a rapid rate,” said John Costello, NSRI Port St Johns station commander.
However, there were three, not two, paddlers in the water, but they returned safely to shore after underestimating the strength of the current.