Walter Nyamukondiwa Kariba Bureau
A four-year-old Kariba girl has died after being attacked by a crocodile while crossing a stream along a footpath linking two suburbs in the town.
The girl who was being carried on the back by her 10-year-old niece was thrown to the ground when the crocodile made its initial attack.
The niece escaped with scratches but the four-year old who was now on the ground was grabbed by the head and whisked into a nearby pool.
On realising what had happened, the niece went and raised alarm at their home which is about 100 metres away.
Neighbours and other residents reacted promptly and combed the area in a bid to rescue the girl girl.
However, it was in vain as she spent a long time submerged in water.
One of the neighbours and family friend, Mr Innocent Zimunhu said residents did not take long to rush to the area which links Destiny Suburb and Batonga Federation Section. Footpaths have become deathtraps for residents owing to wild animals as they are shortcuts between old locations and new residential areas.
“Residents quickly rushed to the area and started searching for the girl by throwing stones into the water with the hope of frightening the crocodile so that it releases her,” said Mr Zimunhu.
The persistent noise and throwing of stone forced the crocodile to emerge from the water with the girl and later released her.
One brave resident and neighbour to the family, Mr Elias Mazabuko waded into the water s towards where the crocodile had emerged and started searching the area.
Mr Mazabuko found the body of the baby identified as Trish while other residents brought nets in a bid to corner the reptile.
“I just decided to get into the water mindful of the fact that any delays would make it difficult to locate the body. At this stage I was clear in my mind that there was no chance of getting the girl alive,” said Mr Mazabuko.
Residents managed to corner the crocodile using nets before it was struck with an axe leading to its death.
When Zimparks rangers arrived, the crocodile had already been killed.
The girl’s body was taken to Kariba District Hospital mortuary.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the street in Batonga’s Federation area as residents and relatives paid their last respect.
The girl was expected to be buried yesterday.
Several people have fallen victims to crocodile or hippo attacks along streams within the Kariba residential areas including Nyamhunga, Chitungwiza and Batonga.
The footpaths shorten the distance between the locations meaning that even schoolchildren and their way to school or back use them.
Residents have called on Kariba Municipality and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) to construct foot bridges between locations.
Mrs Esther Matake who escaped unhurt after and encounter with a crocodile called on authorities to construct footbridges for residents.
“Most people who walk on foot in Kariba use these footpaths because they shorten the distance between location and service centres. I was rescued by the people who were walking with me after coming across a crocodile while crossing a stream along a footpath.
“We need footbridges because the streams are now infested with crocodiles and in some cases we come across hippos and pythons,” said Mrs Matake.
Kariba Municipality has come under fire for discharging sewage into the supposedly perennial streams ensuring that they have water throughout the year.
Some deep ponds have formed creating a habitat for the crocodiles.