IN a rare show of bravado, an 11-year-old girl from Hwange Town plunged into a stream and jumped on top of a crocodile before gouging its eyes to rescue a nine-year-old friend who had been gripped by the reptile.
The incident happened last week when Latoya Muwani was attacked by a crocodile while swimming with friends in a stream in Sinderela Village.
However, Rebecca Munkombwe, a Grade Six pupil at a local school, displayed some heroic exploitations when just after coming out of the stream, she was alerted by screams of help coming from the water.
After seeing that her friend Latoya was struggling to stay on the water surface and was being pulled away, her instinct told her that she had to help her.
She quickly plunged into the water where she found out that Latoya was being pulled away by the big reptile which had gripped her on the hand and leg.
She mounted on top of the reptile and started gouging its eyes until it loosened its grip on Latoya. Rebecca then helped her out of the stream.
Sunday News traced the young heroine and she narrated how despite fighting the crocodile and rescuing her nine-year-old friend, she did not sustain any injuries.
“We had just left the water when we heard Latoya who was left alone swimming near the neck deep zone screaming that something was biting her hand. Since I was the eldest among the other seven children, I felt the urge to save her. So, I jumped into the water and swam to where she was struggling to float. She was screaming in pain that something was biting and pulling her under,” said Rebecca.
She said once she got close to Latoya she noticed that a crocodile had its jaws locked on her thigh.
“I jumped on top of the crocodile and started beating it with my bare hands before using my fingers to poke its eyes until it released her. Once she was free, I swam with her to the banks where the other children pulled her out of the water. The crocodile fortunately did not attack us after it let off Latoya,” said Rebecca.
Sunday News also visited St Patrick’s Hospital where Latoya was admitted to but the administrator stopped the publication from seeing her.
A nurse at the hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity said Latoya was lucky to have escaped with “mild injuries” as the crocodile did not fracture her bones.
Latoya’s father, Mr Fortune Muwani could not hide his gratitude describing his daughter’s survival as miraculous.
“I was at work when I learnt that my daughter had been attacked by a crocodile while swimming. For a moment there I thought of the worst before I learnt that she had survived after being saved by Rebecca. How she managed to do that I don’t know but am grateful to God. Latoya is recovering well here at St Patrick’s and we expect her to be discharged soon as her injuries are not serious,” said Mr Muwani.
Ward 10 councillor Steve Chisose confirmed the attack arguing that the incidents were becoming worrisome.
“Yes, there was another crocodile attack involving a girl who luckily survived after a friend came to her rescue just on time. I spoke to the father who told me that she was receiving treatment at St Patrick’s. What’s also contributing to these incidents is that we have challenges with accessing water which forces women and children to use unprotected sources such as these crocodile-infested streams. The women are usually accompanied by their children who get naughty and end up swimming in these water bodies. I appeal to ZimParks to remove these reptiles before they cause serious harm or death,” he said.
Police in Hwange and Zimparks spokesman Mr Tinashe Farawo said they were yet to receive the report of the attack.
The incident brings to three the number of people, mostly children who have been attacked in the stream which is a tributary of Deka River.
The stream, which has a continuous flow, gets most of its water from the Zimbabwe Power Company effluent and goes through various treatment stages before passing through the area enroute to Deka River.
Sometime this year, a 21-year-old man was attacked and killed by a crocodile while fishing at a disused pit that had filled with water in Madumabisa.