Lead SALead SA

How the tide turned for the Hassiem brothers after their 2006 shark ordeal

Written by: Qama Qukula

In 2006, two brothers survived a shark attack at Cape Town's Muizenberg beach that changed the course of their lives.

Achmat Hassiem lost his lower right leg, while trying to save his younger brother, Taariq Hassiem in the water.

Achmat, otherwise known as 'Shark Boy', went on to become a Paralympic swimmer, representing South Africa in Beijing, London and Rio.

Achmat retired from his competitive swimming career after the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016, in order to focus solely on marine conservation work.

Read: How local surf champ Alfonso Peters used surfing to escape the streets

The marine conservationist says joining the cause has helped increase his awareness and maintains that he does not regret saving his brother.

I wouldn't change a thing. A leg is nothing to lose compared to the life of my brother.

Achmat Hassiem, former Paralympic Swimmer and marine conservationist

I've achieved everything I wanted to achieve within the sport itself.

Achmat Hassiem, former Paralympic Swimmer and marine conservationist

I figured now is the time to get full into conservation and try save the planet we live on and make Shark Boy an actual household superhero name.

Achmat Hassiem, former Paralympic Swimmer and marine conservationist

Over 100 million sharks are killed per year on average.

Achmat Hassiem, former Paralympic Swimmer and marine conservationist

Achmat has also taken on some new adventures, training to become a Paralympic bodybuilder and starting a YouTube channel titled 'shark boy vlogs'.

At the same time, Taariq has been competing at an international level as a lifesaver and plans to take on the 2018 Lifesaving World Champs in Australia with his club.

My brother is always pushing me harder, to the next level.

Taariq Hassiem, False Bay Surf lifeguard

I do think about the shark... I'm a water boy, I love surfing and kneeboarding.

Taariq Hassiem, False Bay Surf lifeguard

The pair spoke about the fateful day of the shark attack, how it affected their and their budding individual careers - both involving water.

Take a listen to their inspiring stories:



Read next from articles

How local surf champ Alfonso Peters used surfing to escape the streets

How local surf champ Alfonso Peters used surfing to escape the streets

Cape Town surf instructor Alfonso Peters shares how he overcame the odds, from juvenile delinquent to world surfing competitor.
Read on...

White sharks washed ashore may have been killed by orcas

White sharks washed ashore may have been killed by orcas

A female shark nearly 5m long first washed up near Gansbaai.
Read on...

SA surf heroes honoured with Cape monument at Muizenberg  beach

SA surf heroes honoured with Cape monument at Muizenberg beach

The 'walk of fame' site will be SA’s first national monument dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of surfing.
Read on...

Surfer tells of his encounter with great white shark

Surfer tells of his encounter with great white shark

Ben Swart says he was lucky to get out of the water unharmed after having an encounter with a shark on Monday.
Read on...

Surfer describes frightening encounter with great white shark

Surfer describes frightening encounter with great white shark

The man was struck off his surf ski by a great white shark while paddling off the coast of Plettenberg Bay.
Read on...

Dramatic video shows close call with Great White in shark cage

Dramatic video shows close call with Great White in shark cage

In the video clip that emerged this week, the shark is seen breaching the cage, grabbing some bait, while a diver is still inside.
Read on...

 Inspiration Wednesday: How SA surfer survived almost 30 hours lost in the sea

Inspiration Wednesday: How SA surfer survived almost 30 hours lost in the sea

Brett Archibald shares his inspirational story of how he survived in the sea before finally being rescued.
Read on...

SA bodyboarder saves surfer from drowning in Hawaii

SA bodyboarder saves surfer from drowning in Hawaii

Andre Botha, a local professional bodyboarder recently rescued an American surfer from drowning in Hawaii.
Read on...