A 3-metre long python caused a stir in Mutare's Dangamvura suburb on Monday afternoon. The python spotted on the outskirts of Area 13 Section of the sprawling high-density suburb.
The origins of the endangered species is unknown, leaving so many theories doing rounds, with some saying the snake was a resident’s wealth-enhancing charm, while others said it was cornered while looking for prey before it hibernated for the winter season.
The snake was first spotted around 10am by a girl who only identified herself as Mercy, who was looking for firewood in the nearby Dangamvura Mountain overlooking the Dangamvura Zimbabwe Republic Police Station.
Having been terrified by her discovery, the shocked Mercy rushed to inform nearby residents and within minutes word had spread like veld fire in the neighbourhood.
Within minutes the area was thronged by people from all age groups, all wanting to catch a glimpse of the cold-blooded reptile. The macho ones tried to catch it, but they were no match for the strong snake as they failed to pull it out of a hole where it had tried to seek sanctuary.
Residents struggled for about four hours to pull the snake out of its temporary sanctuary and it took the intervention of an official from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to finally catch the python.
In an interview, Mercy said she was looking for firewood with her friend when they noticed the big snake in a cleared field on the foot of the mountain.
"We were looking for firewood when I noticed the big snake stretched out in one of the cleared fields. We quickly alerted people nearby who rushed to the place. In no time the place was crowded. Some tried to trap it, but most people were afraid to get close to it," said Mercy.
She said the python tried to escape in the thick grass, but it was easily visible because of its huge size and people eventually trapped it in a gully where it tried to hide in a hole, but failed to fit in.
By the time the news crew arrived at the scene at around 3.45pm scores of residents surrounded the gulley where the snake had been trapped. Some brave men pulled it by the tail and said they had been struggling to pull the python out from the hole from around 1pm.
"We have been struggling to pull the python out of the hole since 1pm. It is remarkably strong," said one resident, Aleck Chinamhora.
Chinamhora said residents wanted to make sure that the python was captured so that it would not stray into the residential areas and prey on pets and people.
Police officers from Dangamvura Police Station, who were keeping a watchful of what was happening, said they had notified the Department of National Parks and Wildlife officers around 11am, but they delayed in arriving due to lack of transport.
An officer from National Parks and Wildlife eventually arrived around 4.20pm using public transport. His arrival was greeted with wild cheers from the restless crowd. He was helped by people to dig the hole to try and reach the part where the head of the snake was.
After about 20 minutes of digging the hole and loosening the soil the python was finally pulled out. More drama was to unfold as the National Parks and Wildlife officer did not have transport to ferry the python to a safer place. More people mobbed him as they wanted to catch a glimpse of the snake from close range. The snake had been tucked in a sack.
The crowd only dispersed after a passing motorist volunteered to carry the officer and "his baggage" into town.