Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
RESIDENTS in Hwange panicked when a big crocodile appeared from nowhere and blocked the main gate at St Patrick’s Hospital on Tuesday.
The reptile made the hospital a no go area for almost two hours as it charged at anyone who came close to the gate.
The nearest water body is Kalape Dam in St Mary’s suburb, about 10KM away hence residents came up with bizarre explanations of the crocodile’s invasion of the hospital.
Pirate taxi drivers were among the first to see the huge reptile at about 7PM as it blocked the gate at the hospital which is in Empumalanga suburb.
A ZimParks team came and killed the crocodile and by then a huge crowd had gathered.
Residents had varied interpretations of the crocodile’s presence at a place so far away from a water body.
Chief Shana said it was rare for a crocodile to stray far from water. “In our African traditional beliefs, once a crocodile attacks a person and the person doesn’t die, it follows to finish them off. It can follow that person even to his or her home. We therefore suspect a resident from that area could have escaped its attack hence it was hunting for him,” said the Chief.
Hospital staff said there was no one admitted following a crocodile attack and police also said they had not received a report of a crocodile attack in the area.
Chief Shana said it was also probable that the crocodile belonged to an individual and something might have gone wrong.
Hwange Local Board Housing clerk, Mr Themba Tshuma said startled residents jammed the switchboard with distress calls. “In less than five minutes, I had received more than 10 phone calls from residents who were in serious panic mode and were requesting that we contact the ZimParks, Fire and Rescue Team to rush to the scene. At first I thought it was a prank because crocodiles are found around water bodies and not in the middle of a suburb,” said Mr Tshuma.
“Outlandish speculations were given by the scared residents, with some believing that someone fond of using juju may have failed to follow given instructions and suddenly changed into a giant, angry, living crocodile.”
Mr Tshuma said residents found it difficult to believe that the crocodile had moved all the way from Kalape Dam – which was also not a known habitat for crocodiles – without being spotted along the way. Zimparks spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo, said he was aware of the incident and said the crocodile could have strayed from nearby water bodies.
“I can confirm we received a report of a crocodile that was spotted at the main gate of a local hospital. We suspect it may have strayed from water bodies. Our team, however, put it down because it was a threat to the community. We are in the rainy season and most water bodies are flooded and maybe due to flash floods, it is possible for the reptile to have been washed away, landing somewhere in the suburb,” he said.
Mr Farawo said although it was common for animals to stray into residential areas, the noise and excitement from the people usually cause wild animals to become vicious and charge as they are not used to the noise.