Fungai Lupande-Mash Central Bureau
A FORM Six learner at Rushinga High School in Mashonaland Central, died within 30 minutes of being bitten by a snake, in a classroom on Thursday afternoon.
Melody Chiputura (17) had returned to the classroom from afternoon sports together with other learners to wind off the day, when the snake, a Black Mamba struck her on the thigh.
Although the snake was immediately killed by some learners, Melody died on her way to hospital, before a doctor could attend to her.
She was buried on Saturday at Kanyemba village in Rushinga, leaving a shell-shocked community and scores of traumatised school mates.
Melody’s father, Mr Joseph Chiputura, who is also, councillor for Ward 13 in Rushinga said he arrived at Rushinga Clinic, where Melody was rushed to 20 minutes after the incident.
“We received a call 10 minutes after she was bitten. When we arrived at the clinic it was too late. This is hard to accept and it is painful. I don’t understand how a snake can get into a classroom and bite my daughter.
“My daughter had great potential and she loved going to school. She had great hopes pinned on education and we had to make sure we provided everything she needed. She was doing History, Psychology and Religious Studies and her dream was to become a psychologist,” he said.
Black Mambas are sleek, fast, nervous, lethally venomous, and when they feel threatened, they are highly aggressive. Growing up to 3 metres ordinarily, and injecting in one bite, venom enough to kill six adults, the black mamba is widely considered the world’s deadliest snake. Most of its victims die within 20 minutes of being bitten.
They get their name not from their skin colour, which tends to be olive to grey, but rather from the blue-black colour of the inside of their mouth, which they display when threatened.
Rushinga High School head Mr Christopher Murenga said, “It was on Thursday and all learners went for sporting activities as per the school timetable. At around 3.50 pm the learners returned to their classroom as they prepared to leave for the day.
“She sat on her usual desk, the third desk to the wall, and two desks in front of her were occupied by her classmates. Immediately she screamed, saying something had bitten her.
“The learners discovered the snake and everyone panicked with some jumping out through windows. Some of the boys took Melody outside and started calling for help.”
Mr Murenga said within five minutes they managed to rush Melody to Rushinga Clinic while contacting her parents.
“Her parents arrived within 20 minutes in the company of someone with traditional herbs.
“At the same time we contacted Chimhanda Hospital and the doctor advised us to bring Melody and the snake which had already been killed by learners,” he said.
“She died on the way to the hospital. We are in shock we don’t understand where this snake came from. The classroom block is far away from suspected snake habitats.
“This is unexplainable. The psychological unit will be at school today to talk to our learners. We also summoned the counselling and guidance teachers to talk to Form Six students who witnessed the incident.
“She was obedient and well-mannered. During career guidance events she assisted with cooking and catering. We have lost an intelligent girl whom we were sure would pass her Advanced Level,” said the school head.
Deputy provincial education director, Dr Themba Mangwiro who attended the burial and visited the school said there was no tall grass around the school and the area leading to the classroom is clear.
“The information we gathered is that the snake was spotted close to a mountain by a villager. It is reported that the snake crossed the highway after someone attacked it.
“We suspect that since the learners were on the grounds doing sports the snake entered the classroom because it was quiet.
“All necessary assistance was rendered and she died on her way to Chimhanda Hospital. This is a unique case, but we advise school heads to ensure they cut the grass around their schools.
“This incident has made us realise that we need to improve disaster risk management which is not given enough attention in schools. We never thought such incidents can happen in a classroom.
“We need to teach our children that snakes don’t want to be disturbed. We heard that this snake wanted to strike another child,” he said.