By Rex Mphisa
ONE woman died and two other people, including a three-year child of the deceased, were injured when their group of 11 was attacked by two hippos in the banks of the Limpopo River on Thursday night.
The deceased has been identified as Olivia Mabhadho of Chipinge, whose age is yet to be ascertained.
The other eight, including their guide only identified as Toro, climbed trees and remained put until rescued by police and soldiers.
Mabhadho, with her child on the back and the other woman were slow and were gored, the former fatally.
Matabeleland South police spokesman Philisani Ndebele referred questions to his office, saying he was in a workshop.
“Please, call my office. They should be able to assist you,” said Ndebele.
According to one of the survivors, the party was on its way to South Africa through an illegal crossing point downstream of the physical Beitbridge, when the two herbivores charged.
Both the injured woman and child were taken to Beitbridge District Hospital.
“We paid R3 500 each from Chipinge to Johannesburg, but were not told we would go through the river. They only said it when we arrived at Beitbridge and asked all of us to leave behind our phones and any cash we had,” a woman, who only identified herself as Precious, said.
“I was on my way with my young sister and child to meet my husband,” said a tearful Precious still visibly shaken.
The minibus, which she said belonged to a Checheche businessman called Mhindu, had been dispatched to take them to Johannesburg.
Another survivor, Estinah Mangadza, said when they boarded the minibus everything looked simple, but they did not even have food after all their belongings were taken by the minibus driver who was supposed to meet them later across the border.
In a development raising more questions than answers, Toro called the police and members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) from his mobile, indicating he had their contacts.
The two hippos were put down yesterday although it was not immediately clear if it was rangers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority who were responsible for shooting them.
Mabhadho’s death comes barely two months after a ZNA member, Pelious Moyo, was killed by a hippo around the same area.
It is suspected that members of ZNA and police facilitate border jumping and smuggling.
“Strange, isn’t it that this Toro had contacts of the police and army members who he called almost immediately. This smells like a syndicate,” an unidentified Beitbridge resident said.
Another member of the ZNA, Taurayi Mombeyarara, was seriously injured in an accident where seven cigarette smugglers died on the spot after their car was
involved in an accident at Nuli, 40km outside Beitbridge.