‘Crocodile-infested Kamativi Dam a war zone’

Leonard Ncube, [email protected]

MR TIMOTHY Mvula (66), a former worker at Kamativi Mine in Hwange district survived a crocodile attack that cost him a right leg in 2008 while on a fishing expedition in a crocodile-infested Kamativi Dam.

Mr Mvula resorted to fishing for a living as poverty bit the community hard following the closure of the then Kamativi Tin Mine in 1994.

He had joined the mine in 1972 as a messenger and at the time of the mine closure, Mr Mvula had moved to the public department.

Close to 10 people and dozens of livestock have been killed by crocodiles in Kamativi Dam over the years.

In 1998, residents decided to call the dam “DRC,” as the number of people who either drown or were attacked by crocodiles reminded them of the DRC civil war in the late 1990s.

The dam is a source of domestic water for Kamativi whose water reticulation system has not been functional since 1994.

Fishing was the only alternative source of living in the absence of formal employment.

Mr Mvula who walks with the aid of crutches, is the chairperson for Kamativi Residents Association. He has implored authorities to invest in safe water sources in the community to save people from disease and human-wildlife conflict.

“I was injured in August 2008. We went to Kamativi Dam, which we now call DRC Dam because of the ferocious crocodiles and the number of people that have died in the water body,” he said.

“There was nothing else we could do for a living as the pensions we received came late and had been eroded by inflation and hence could not sustain us after the closure of the mine. So fishing was only source of livelihood.”

Mr Timothy Mvula

It was on a Sunday and Mr Mvula decided not to go to church and opted to join others in their fishing expedition.

“We used fishing nets. I remember on that particular day coming out of water and was sitting down when I decided to go back again seeing that my friends were catching more fish,” he said.

“After I had positioned my net and walked away to drive the fish a crocodile suddenly grabbed my thigh and it pulled me about 10 metres into the deeper end of the water.”

Mr Mvula said the crocodile rolled several times as it tried to drown him. All other fishermen had fled leaving him alone in the deadly water. 

Fortunately he was wearing gumboots and they came off in the process of wrestling with the crocodile and this distracted the reptile.

As the crocodile was about to grab him again, one brave resident picked a stick and threw it into the water. Mr Mvula took the stick and used it to poke the crocodile in the mouth and it let go of him.

“I was in pain but I had to gather courage when the crocodile had loosened its jaws. I screamed for help and one of the people gave me a stick which I used to poke it in the mouth and nose,” he said.

“They then pulled me out of water and started rendering first aid on my bleeding leg. Less than five minutes after they pulled me out of the water, we were shocked by the number of crocodiles in the water body.”

Mr Mvula was taken to Kamativi Clinic and later transferred to St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange.

A resident, a Mrs Gora came to his rescue and paid the ambulance money and he was rushed to St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange.

He was later transferred to Hwange Colliery Company where surgery was conducted.

Mr Mvula became unconscious soon after the attack and regained consciousness after the surgery.

Doctors said the leg got an infection and it was amputated.

“The crocodile bit off all flesh on the back of the leg leaving the bone exposed. I spent two months in hospital after the operation as it took time to heal,” said Mr Mvula.

He is grateful to everyone who helped him including Reverend Fr Mabika who conducted counselling sessions.

“My challenge is that I can no longer work because of the disability. Our plea as a community is for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to help us by removing the crocodiles. I think they are more than 100 and they make life difficult,” said Mr Mvula.

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