By Thupeyo Muleya
BEITBRIDGE – A group of 18 suspected border jumpers and a fisherman yesterday teamed up and killed a crocodile which wanted to attack them at an illegal crossing point along the Limpopo River.
Witnesses said the group first trapped the three-metre crocodile in a fishing net as it was charging towards them before killing it.
The incident happened at around 7AM near the spillway which is one of the popular illegal crossing points, some 900 metres east of the Alfred Beit-Bridge.
There are an estimated 200 illegal crossing points between South Africa and Zimbabwe’s boundary line.Witnesses said the group spotted the crocodile charging towards them and quickly hatched a plan to trap it in the fishing net.
The witnesses said once they caught the reptile’s head in the fishing net, the group started assaulting it using stones until it collapsed.
“I heard some noise when I was asleep with many people urging each other to hit the crocodile. I thought they were border jumpers beating up one of the criminals who often operate in the area.
“When I arrived at the scene, I saw them attacking the reptile with stones,” said Patrick Shombe, a member of the neighbourhood watch committee who stays close to the area.
Shombe said he then tried to restrain the group from attacking the reptile and they ran away in different directions.
He later made a report to the police and the national parks and wildlife management authority officials who rushed to the scene.
The crocodile, which looked lifeless, was later shot by national parks and wildlife Management authority rangers at around midday.
The rangers then ferried it to their local offices.
According to one of the rangers on the scene, the 3m long female crocodile is estimated to be six years old.
Beitbridge’s Ward One councillor Max Chikova who was also one of the first people to arrive at the scene, urged members of the community to always use designated entry/exit points rather than risk being attacked by crocodiles, hippopotamus and marauding criminals along the boundary line.
“We want to discourage people from using illegal crossing points into either Zimbabwe or South Africa. Furthermore people should avoid the wilful killing of wild animals,” he said.
The incident comes a fortnight after two people were killed by a hippopotamus while trying to illegally cross into South Africa. Both victims were criminals who were in the habit of waylaying and robbing border jumpers at the spillway and Dulibadzimu gorges respectively. The Chronicle