Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
CONFRONTED by a huge python while out herding goats along a riverbank, a 27-year-old Chivi woman leapt into a river hoping to wade across to safety. Terrified Tsitsi Gwanangara had no way of knowing that she was jumping into the jaws of a crocodile which ripped open her abdomen and chopped chunks of flesh from her legs and arms with its gnashers.
Gwanangara, of Mavhima Village under Chief Madzivire, was yesterday battling for life at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital after the ferocious attack by the reptile at around 2PM on Wednesday.
The Chronicle heard how Gwanangara bravely fought the crocodile by poking its eyes and punching it in the mouth for several minutes until it let go — but not before stone-throwing villagers joined the rescue effort.
She was admitted to Chivi District Hospital and then later taken to Masvingo General Hospital before being transferred to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare yesterday after her condition deteriorated.
A nurse who spoke to Gwanangara at Masvingo General Hospital, before her injuries appeared to overwhelm her, said:
“She’s a brave woman. She just refused to die. She told us how she used her bare hands to poke and hit the crocodile in the mouth area until it let go of her.”
Gwanangara, according to the nurse, suffered “horrific” injuries in the abdomen, right arm and right leg.
“She was cut and bruised all over the body. You’d think she was attacked with a chainsaw. She met unimaginable misfortune — running from a python into the mouth of a crocodile. It’s a classic case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” said the nurse, who cannot be named for professional reasons.
Before her terrifying ordeal, Gwanangara was herding her goats close to the flooded Runde River with three others when she came across the python.
She fled the snake, which constricts and swallows prey whole, before launching herself into the river intending to walk across to safety.
Ruvarashe Chimbi, 57, who was with Gwanangara when the crocodile attacked, said villagers pelted the reptile with stones until it gave up its human prey.
“We were herding goats together with an eight-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. We saw a snake near our goats and decided to drive them to safety. The snake became aggressive and we tried to escape to the other side of Runde River,” said Chimbi.
“When we got into the flooded river, we walked in a single file. The crocodile emerged out of nowhere when we were in the middle of the river and clamped its jaws on Tsitsi’s right leg.”
Chimbi said she dragged the children out of the water while screaming for help.
“Tsitsi fought the crocodile, which was huge.
“She poked her fist into its mouth and it let go of her leg but then gripped her abdomen, just below her right breast,” she said.
Chimbi said Gwanangara bravely fought with the crocodile for what seemed like an eternity, until other villagers arrived and pelted the reptile with stones and logs forcing it to let go.
Village head Thomas Mavhima said Gwanangara was rushed to the hospital by her husband, Robson Nyika, and other villagers.
He added: “We’ve heard a lot of stories of this nature from Runde River, although this is the first in 2016.”
Chivi District administrator, Hebert Hadzirambwi, said they had received a report on the crocodile attack and officials would visit the scene with Parks rangers to see if they can locate and kill the crocodile before it strikes again.