East London spearfisherman and businessman Johan Stone, 49, has died while spearfishing in Mozambique.
He did not surface from a dive in the bay of Zavora near the city of Inhambane last Tuesday.
The body of Stone, who was also an underwater hockey player, was recovered on Tuesday by divers.
His longtime friend, Justin Lindsay called the Dispatch at 8pm on Tuesday to say: “Johan’s body was found at midday by divers on a boat. They spotted his body floating. It was positively identified by his friends, Tony Swart, and Adrian Barichievy, who went on the trip with him. He was still in his full diving kit, with his weight-belt on. It’s highly likely he blacked out underwater.”
“This whole situation is devastating for his family and friends, but the fact that his body has been found has brought closure.”
He had been spearfishing with friends, who included Ivan Wienk and Martin Victor, off the coast shortly before cyclone Idai ravaged Mozambique.
The owner of Stones Funeral Home failed to resurface from the ocean floor. His spear gun was found floating on the surface without a line.
He was fishing in calm conditions on a reef 10km offshore at 10am, said Stone’s friend and fellow underwater hockey player, Justin Lindsay, 47.
Lindsay believes Stone caught a big fish and exhausted his last energy on fighting the fish before passing out on his way to the surface.
“Friends realised that he had not resurfaced after the dive and searched for him immediately but only found the spear gun. “They were staying at a scuba diving facility so scuba divers joined in the search but without luck,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay said his friend of eight years (Johan) may have suffered a common condition known as the “shallow water blackout”.
“Those who have suffered shallow water blackout say it is a pleasant feeling, it’s like falling asleep. The gun was found with no spear on the end.”
Lindsay said while many coastal parts of Mozambique experienced tropical storms, the storm had not affected Inhambane.
“The conditions were calm with fairly gentle current conditions and very little wind.
“He was staying and fishing long way south of the tropical cyclone. ”
Lindsay was speaking to the Daily Dispatch alongside Stone’s wife, Elize, during a joint interview at Stone’s home in Vincent.
Lindsay said Stone was an experienced spearfisherman who could dive 30m deep and spent over two minutes underwater.
Lindsay believes once he had passed out, Stone’s body sank and drifted into the open ocean.
Stone and friends had been on a spearfishing trip at the bay of Zavora in the city of Inhambane since March 16.
They were suppose to return to South Africa on Thursday Stone’s wife of 24 years, Elize Stone, said.
Earlier before his body was discovered, a weeping Mrs Stones had said in a telephone call: “We are devastated. It is heartbreaking.
“We hope he is still out there, we want to hold on.
“ I am at peace that if the Lord took him, it was through something he enjoyed.”
The Stones are a well-known family who have run a funeral parlour in Cambridge since 1991.
The Hangklip High School matriculant relocated to East London from Komani to start the business 28 years ago.