11-year-old Zimbabwe girl wrestles crocodile, gouges its eyes to save friend

A young girl wrestled with a crocodile and gouged its eyes out to save her friend from the reptile's clutches in Zimbabwe.

According to The Sunday News, a local newspaper, 11-year-old Rebecca Munkombwe of Hwange Town was a hero to a nine-year-old friend Latoya Muwani was attacked by a crocodile while swimming with friends in a stream in Sinderela Village.

The newspaper reported that shortly after coming out of the water, Munkombwe was alerted by "screams of help" coming from the stream and saw Muwani was struggling to stay above the water's surface and was being pulled away - and her instincts told her she should help.

So, she quickly jumped back into the water and found that her friend was being pulled by the large reptile, which had a grip on her hand and leg. According to The Sunday News, Munkombwe mounted the crocodile and started gouging out its eyes until it loosened its grip on Muwani. She then helped her friend out of the water.

The Sunday News then traced the preteen heroine and she narrated to the publication how despite fighting the crocodile and saving her friend, she didn't sustain any injuries.

"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," Munkombwe told The Sunday News. "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."

She then stated that once she got close to Muwani, she noticed that the animal had its jaws locked on her thigh.

Munkombwe continued:

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.

The Sunday News also visited the local St. Patrick's Hospital where Muwani was treated, but the hospital's administrator stopped the newspaper from seeing her. However, a nurse - who remained anonymous - spoke to The Sunday News and said she was lucky to have escaped with "mild injuries" as the crocodile didn't fracture any bones.

Muwani's father, Fortune Muwani, also spoke to the newspaper, and couldn't hide his gratitude when he described his daughter's survival as "miraculous."

"I was at work when I [learned] that my daughter had been attacked by a crocodile while swimming," he told The Sunday News. "For a moment there I thought of the worst before I [learned] that she had survived after being saved by Rebecca."

He continued:

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.

Ward 10 councilor Steve Chisose confirmed the crocodile attack to The Sunday News, adding that these incidents were becoming worrisome.

"Yes, there was another crocodile attack involving a girl who luckily survived after a friend came to her rescue just on time," he stated. "I spoke to the father who told me that she was receiving treatment at St Patrick’s. What’s also contributing to these incidents is that we have challenges with accessing water which forces women and children to use unprotected sources such as these crocodile-infested streams. The women are usually accompanied by their children who get naughty and end up swimming in these water bodies. I appeal to ZimParks to remove these reptiles before they cause serious harm or death."

Hwange police and Zimparks spokesman Tinashe Farawo stated they were yet to receive the report of the attack.

According to The Sunday News, this incident brings the number to three attacks - mostly children who have been attacked in the stream, which is a tributary of the Deka River.

The stream - which has a continuous flow - gets most of its water from the Zimbabwe Power Company effluent and goes through various treatment stages before passing through the area en route to the Deka River, stated the publication.

The newspaper also stated that sometime this year, a 21-year-old man was attacked and killed by a crocodile while fishing at a disused pit that filled with water in Madumabisa.