The families of the young couple from Northern Ireland who lost their lives just six days after they got married are “thoroughly devastated”.
John (28) and Lynette (26) Rodgers (nee Reilly) were found on a beach at Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape on Friday.
Our happiness in sharing their recent wedding has been thoroughly devastated.
Efforts were made to resuscitate them, but they were declared dead at the scene.
“It has come as a great shock to both the Reilly and Rodgers families to learn of the sudden and tragic events in South Africa, which has taken the lives of Lynette and John,” read a statement from a family spokesperson on Sunday.
“Our happiness in sharing their recent wedding has been thoroughly devastated. Both were very dearly loved and brought us great joy.
“We would now ask that our families privacy be respected and we are left in peace. Thank you.”
The couple were married at a church in Holywood last Saturday.
Lynette was a physiotherapist from Holywood with close family connections in the Dungiven area in Co. Derry and John an office worker from Ballygowan.
The body of Mr Rodgers was discovered in shallow surf on Robberg Beach by a local man at around 6pm on Friday, South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said. The body of Mrs Rodgers was found around 200 metres away along the same beach, the institute said. Rescue workers said sea conditions were rough at the time, with strong rip-currents in the water.
A spokesman for the NSRI said the couple could not be revived despite paramedics conducting CPR and they were declared dead at the scene.
“It is believed that they had gone to swim shortly after arriving in Plettenberg Bay on holiday.
“It is suspected that they drowned. Sea conditions were rough with strong rip currents in the vicinity,” he said.
The Foreign Office has confirmed it is providing consular assistance to both families.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has expressed his sympathies.
He said on Twitter: “Very sad to hear the tragic news of young Co Down couple who were drowned whilst on honeymoon in South Africa. My sympathy to their families.”
Former mayor of North Down Andrew Muir described the double tragedy as “horrendous”.
He tweeted: “Thoughts & Prayers with families and friends of Holywood couple John & Lynette Rodgers who died in South Africa on Honeymoon. Horrendous news.”