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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on February 27, 2001 at 19:57:19:
THE NAMIBIAN (Windhoek) 27 February 01 Python victim uncoils his tale (Chrispin Inambao)
A gardener who was nearly crushed to death by a python at a lodge near Katima Mulilo is slowly recovering, although he still suffers from vivid nightmares about the spine-chilling incident.
The rare python attack, said to be the first in the Caprivi region for several decades, took place on the property of Hippo Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi River on February 6.
According to the victim and eyewitness accounts, the monstrous reptile measured about five metres in length and weighed at least 100 kilogrammes.
The victim was Febby Katwa (29), who works as a gardener at the Hippo Lodge, around 10 kilometres east of Katima Mulilo.
He originates from Kayuwo Village in the Kongola Constituency.
Katwa's near-death experience took place at around 12h30 three weeks ago as he was on his way through tall grass within the bounds of the Lodge.
Yesterday he told The Namibian that the snake pounced on him and before he could grasp what was happening the giant reptile had started to grasp him, coiling itself around his body.
As it tried to squeeze the life out of the gardener, the python bit him on the left calf causing excruciating pain."
"I just saw something moving very, very fast out of the grass.
When I stopped to figure out what it was it was all over my body.
It coiled itself around me and bit me.
It was so strong I immediately smelt death... I knew I was going to die," he said.
A co-worker who was with him when the python struck apparently vanished from the scene with the swiftness of a scared rabbit.
Katwa said the python was so strong that it would be fair to compare its strength to that of an ox.
His screams drew the attention of fellow workers who watched helplessly as Katwa struggled with the massive snake.
But Morris Mwezi, a barman at Hippo Lodge, somehow plucked up enough courage to grab a sharp carving knife from the kitchen.
He severed the reptile's head from its body saving his friend from an agonising death.
But after the snake uncoiled itself from its "meal" it took several minutes to remove its severed head from Katwa's calf as its teeth had sunk deep into his flesh.
The calf wound was so deep that Katwa bled for more than 10 hours as nursing staff at Katima Mulilo hospital battled to stem the bleeding.
Yesterday Katwa said he was recuperating from his injuries but still suffered from recurring nightmares.
His fellow employees at Hippo Lodge are also experiencing similar dreams.
Ben Beytell, the Deputy Director for the North at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, said pythons rarely "swallow" human beings."
"They (pythons) usually avoid people, but they will bite them if they feel threatened... they might even try to strangle them, but I have never heard of someone being swallowed by a python in Namibia," he said."
"We don't have any record of any adult being swallowed by a python... in South America there is a record of an anaconda swallowing a person," he added.