Girl saves sibling from crocodile jaws
-Lovejoy Shumba comforts her brother Lesley last Tueday at Masvingo General Hospital soon after the latter was discharged to continue his treatment at Neshuro District Hospital in Mwenezi
THE heroics of a Form Two school girl, Lovejoy Shumba, who pummelled a crocodile with
open hands saved her 11-year-old younger brother from the jaws of a crocodile along Runde
River on the last day of 2022.
Lesley Shumba of Chibaya Village under Chief Neshuro Mwenezi, escaped with a broken left
arm and fractured forearm after his sister pulled him out of the water as she punched the
crocodile repeatedly, after it locked its jaws around his arm, breaking it in the process.
The Star met the siblings at Masvingo General Hospital on Tuesday afternoon as Lovejoy, a
Form Two learner at Masogwe Secondary School in Mwenezi, prepared to accompany her
brother back to Mwenezi to complete his recuperation at Neshuro District Hospital.
Lesley was preparing to leave the hospital after nearly three weeks, heading back to the district
health facility, where his hospitalisation began.
Lesley, who has ambitions of becoming a teacher on completing his education, said he was
happy to have survived being devoured by the man-eating reptile and looked forward to
continuing his education by joining his peers in Grade Six at Chesvingo Primary School with the
aim of posting nine points when he eventually writes his Zimbabwe Schools Examination
Council Grade Seven examinations next year (2024).
The incident occurred on December 31, when Lovejoy and Lesley went to Runde River, a short
walking distance from their village to wash their clothes in the company of another juvenile, who
reportedly bolted from the scene when the crocodile attacked Lesley.
At the river, Lovejoy was washing the clothes in a dish on the water’s edge while Lesley stood in
shallow waters that hardly reached knee height rinsing clothes, when the reptile pounced.
“The crocodile rode on my back as it knocked me into the water and grabbed my left forearm.
When it raised me out of the water I called out to Lovejoy, screaming for help before it knocked
me back into the water,” said Lesley as he sat on a hospital bed, waiting for his mother to
complete the necessary formalities to allow him to be released.
Without even thinking about it, Lovejoy jumped into the water and started striking the crocodile
with open hands forcing it to let Lesley go and allow her to pull him out of the water.
She called out to the third juvenile who had accompanied them to the river, but he was already
halfway up the river bank running away.
Although it let go of Lesley’s arm, allowing Lovejoy to pull him out, the crocodile was not yet
done as it lunged and locked its jaws around Lesley’s upper part of the left arm instantly
breaking it. Neither did Lovejoy relent as she kept hitting the crocodile, which let go and
disappeared under water.
Both siblings said they had not seen the reptile approaching as they were busy with their
Meanwhile the Government is in the process of establishing a fund that will help sponsor
projects to curb cases of human wildlife conflict countrywide at a time there is an increase in
human casualties as a result of such clashes.
Last year, 66 people died while many were left injured because of the conflicts as humans
encroached into wildlife areas for various reasons or as animals ventured into human inhabited
Among human wildlife conflict cases in Masvingo, a Zaka woman lost both arms while another
from Gutu lost an arm after being attacked by suspected rabid hyena in separate incidents as the
ever-growing human and wildlife populations seem to stock the conflicts.
The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry is on record saying
creation of the fund followed an order from President Emmerson Mnangagwa that they come up
with measures to address the situation.
Although the seed fund is expected to from the Government, ways would be formulated to
sustain the fund, which would be used to support affected families as well as come up with
programmes that help reduce the mortality rate caused by the clashes.
Resources would also be channeled towards the formation of plantations for firewood and solar
energy to avoid the rampant cutting down of trees, which may also result in conflicts.
As the Zimbabwean human population continues to grow, people encroach into wildlife zones
for farming and shelter, leading to conflicts.
The effects of climate change are also exacerbating the situation as humans and wildlife tend to
share water bodies in instances. Zimbabwe has more than 100 000 elephants against a carrying
capacity of about 45 000.
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