An 11-year-old Zimbabwean, Rebecca Munkombwe, fought a crocodile with her bare hands last year to save her nine-year-old friend from being devoured by the reptile.

Munkombwe was said to have jumped on the back of the crocodile and gouged its eyes till it released its grip on her friend.

The victim, nine-year-old Latoya Muwani, was reportedly swimming with friends in a stream in Sinderela Village in Zimbabwe when she was attacked. According to local media, Munkombwe, a pupil from the Hwange Town, was getting out of the stream when she heard her friend screaming.

“We had just left the water when we heard Latoya who was left alone swimming near the neck deep zone screaming that something was biting her hand. Since I was the eldest among the other seven children, I felt the urge to save her. So, I jumped into the water and swam to where she was struggling to float. She was screaming in pain that something was biting and pulling her under,” said Munkombwe.

After seeing that her friend Muwani was struggling to stay on the water surface and was being pulled away, she quickly jumped into the water by the big reptile which had its jaws locked tight on Muwani’s thigh.

She rode on top of the reptile and started gouging its eyes until it loosened its grip on Muwani. Munkombwe then helped her out of the stream.

I jumped on top of the crocodile and started beating it with my bare hands before using my fingers to poke its eyes until it released her. Once she was free, I swam with her to the banks where the other children pulled her out of the water. The crocodile fortunately did not attack us after it let off Latoya,” said Munkombwe.

Reportedly, the crocodile did not fracture her bones as Latoya sustained mild injuries.

Describing his daughter’s survival as miraculous Latoya’s father, Mr Fortune Muwani noted that when he heard his daughter had been attacked by a crocodile while swimming, he thought the worst.

For a moment there I thought of the worst before I learnt that she had survived after being saved by Rebecca. How she managed to do that I don’t know but am grateful to God. Latoya is recovering well here at St Patrick’s and we expect her to be discharged soon as her injuries are not serious,” Mr Muwani said.

Meanwhile, Local councilor Steve Chisose has expressed worry over repeated crocodile attacks in the area attributing it to a problem with water supply, hence the reason women and children accessing water from streams with the large reptiles.

I appeal to ZimParks to remove these reptiles before they cause serious harm or death,” ‘ he said.

Earliy last year, a 21-year-old man was attacked and killed by a crocodile while fishing at a disused pit, according to the Zimbabwe Sunday News.

In a similar story, a Ugandan man battled with a crocodile while seeking for revenge. In 2015, after losing his pregnant wife, Demeteriya Nabire, to a crocodile four months earlier, husband Mubarak Batambuze was able to get revenge, when he and his community took down the crocodile in Uganda’s Lake Kyoga, according to the BBC.

When wife Nabire was fetching water from the lake with a number of other women, a crocodile — reportedly weighing 600 kg and longer than four meters — snatched her, with no one ever seeing any trace of her again.

Batumbuze, a fisherman, explains, “The crocodile ate my wife entirely. Nothing was ever seen of her again – no clothes, no part of her body that I could identify. I just didn’t know what to do – a mother and her unborn child. It was the end of my world. I was completely lost.”

A month later, friends alerted him when the deadly crocodile returned, “Somebody called me and said, ‘Mubarak, I have news for you — the crocodile that took your wife is here — we are looking at it now.’”

And even though the 50-year-old Batumbuze and his friends attempted to assault the crocodile, their efforts were in vain.

He was a very big monster, and we tried fighting him with stones and sticks. But there was nothing we could do,” says Batumbuze. After taking some time to consider what he was up against, Batumbuze decided to pay a visit to his local blacksmith.

“I explained to him that I was fighting a beast that had snatched and killed my wife and unborn baby. I really wanted my revenge, and asked the blacksmith to make me a spear that could kill the crocodile dead.”

When Batambuze returned to the lake, the crocodile was waiting. Batambuze says that at the sight of him, his friends begged him to change his mind about attacking the beast because they feared he would lose his life just as his wife did.

“‘Please don’t attack this beast,’ they pleaded, ‘it’s so huge it may eat you. The spear is not enough – it won’t finish the job.’” At the time, Batambuze replied, “I failed killing it the first time around. I’m not bothered if I die killing this beast. I’m going to take it on with this spear, and I will make sure that it dies.”

Undeterred, Batambuze began attacking the crocodile, with his dependable friends joining in with the difficult task.

He tied a rope to the end of the weapon so that once the tip was embedded in the crocodile, he could pull it out at an angle and the barb would cut into more of the animal’s flesh.

I put the spear into the crocodile’s side, and while my friends were helping to throw stones at the beast’s back, it tried getting its mouth up to attack me again.

“It turned violent, and then there was so much fear in the place. But I was so determined, and I wasn’t afraid of dying. I just wanted it dead, so I put the spear in its side and I pulled the rope. That got the crocodile into trouble.”

An hour and a half later, the crocodile was dead. And the feat has pegged Batambuze a hero in his community.

Within myself I’m a very depressed man because I lost a wife and an unborn child,” he explains. “But the locals keep on saying, ‘Thank you for killing the beast, that’s where we fetch water and we’re sure it would have taken somebody else. Thank you so much, you did a great job. So I’m a local hero – people keep on thanking me.”

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