Jealous husband denies last wish

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Posted by on January 25, 2005 at 03:30:06:

AIRLINE pilot Dave Shaw's dying wish to have his ashes scattered across the waters of the cave that claimed his life was refused by the cave's owner, who claims the Australian diver was having an affair with his wife.

Shaw died earlier this month attempting to retrieve the body of a diver from the depth of 270m at the bottom of the cave, the world's third-deepest. Shaw died soon after reaching the bottom but his body and that of Deon Dreyer floated to the surface a few days later, where the remains of both men were retrieved.

A front-page report in the Afrikaans-language broadsheet Rapport quotes Andries van Zyl, the 48-year-old owner of the land on which the Boesmansgat cave is located, saying that Shaw, 50, and van Zyl's wife Debbie, 42 were having a relationship that began in October.

Mr van Zyl said he would not permit Shaw's remains to be scattered on the waters of the cave -- something Shaw had asked for should he not survive the dive. Mr Van Zyl said the affair began when Shaw arrived on the farm last year to try to break the world deep-diving record.

It was during this descent that Shaw came across the remains of Dreyer on the bottom of the cave. Dreyer had died diving there in 1994.

In the days leading up to the record attempt, Shaw had stayed with Mr van Zyl and his wife at their farmhouse. Mr Van Zyl had to go away for a few days, leaving Shaw in the company of his wife. When he returned, Mr Van Zyl said, he immediately realised something was up.

"I suspected something when I returned and my wife began acting differently. She acted strangely towards me, hardly talking at all," Mr van Zyl said. "Debbie and Shaw began emailing each other, mails which she would immediately wipe from the computer. She was noticeably worried that I would read them."

In December Mrs van Zyl told him she wanted a divorce. Then in January, when Shaw set out to retrieve Dreyer's body, she waited anxiously for him to return to the surface. When she learned of his death she was devastated.

She told Rapport she and Shaw had had a "close friendship".

"I discussed my and Andries' problems with Dave and asked him for advice. Dave was my confidant."

However, Mr Shaw's widow Ann, 49, said yesterday any allegations of a relationship between her husband and Mrs van Zyl were "garbage".

She had not made a decision on what to do with her husband's ashes and no request had ever been made for them to be scattered at the cave.

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