Croc alert for Dusi river race

Bound, rot­ting body re­trieved

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - VIC­TO­RIA JOHN and SAPA

THE BODY of a man has been wrenched from the jaws of a croc­o­dile in KwaZulu-Natal’s Ense­leni River, al­though po­lice do not know whether he was killed be­fore or af­ter he was bit­ten.

And the or­gan­is­ers of the Dusi Ca­noe Marathon have con­firmed that a croc­o­dile is lurk­ing along the Um­geni River route of next year’s marathon.

Ray de Vries, spokesman for Hansa Pow­er­ade Dusi, said a two-me­tre long croc­o­dile had been spot­ted sev­eral times re­cently by res­i­dents of Reser­voir Hills in Dur­ban.

At the Ense­leni Na­ture Re­serve last week vis­i­tors spot­ted the body of se­cu­rity guard Michael Xaba, 28, in the croc­o­dile’s jaws. His feet and hands were bound.

“If he was dead be­fore, he would have been smelled a mile away by the croc­o­dile,” Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Jeff Ga­is­ford said.

But Xaba’s em­ployer, Pierre Con­radie, head of Al­pha Se­cu­rity, said Xaba might have been thrown to the croc­o­dile.

“He was killed. I think it had to do with a per­sonal is­sue,” said Con­radie.

The Em­pan­geni Fire and Res­cue Depart­ment and the Em­pan­geni Dog Unit went out on a boat to re­trieve the de­com­pos­ing body, said Dave Savides, chair­man of the Richards Bay Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Fo­rum.

“The po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of per­sonal mo­ti­va­tions. We are looking at all an­gles,” Savides said.

Xaba’s skull was flat­tened and his jaw was bro­ken.

District Sur­geon Dr Frank van Niek­erk said that the cause of death had not been de­ter­mined. How­ever, “he could not have sur­vived those in­juries”.

Mean­while De Vries of the Dusi Ca­noe Marathon said res­i­dents who lived near the Um­geni River would not al­low their chil­dren to fish along the river be­cause of fears they would be eaten.

Res­i­dents said the rep­tile made ran­dom ap­pear­ances soon af­ter they no­ticed a num­ber of Egyp­tian geese had dis­ap­peared from the river, and “the carp were go­ing crazy in the wa­ter”.

De Vries, who vis­ited the area and spoke to res­i­dents, said the geese which lived on that part of the river had also al­most com­pletely dis­ap­peared.

Last week, res­i­dent Ni­vash Dhookran, 37, who farms on the river­bank was nearly taken by a croc­o­dile.

“I got the fright of my life. I was pick­ing herbs and the next thing I saw this thing open its mouth to bite me on my arm or shoul­der. I ran like hell and called peo­ple who con­firmed that it was a croc­o­dile and we man­aged to take a pic­ture with a cell­phone,” Dhookran said.

He said his labour­ers also spot­ted it on the river bank.

Dhookran has lived in the area for 30 years. He has farmed the land for 10 years and said he had never seen a croc­o­dile there be­fore.

De Vries said it could very well be the same croc­o­dile that was spot­ted by a num­ber of Dusi pad­dlers two years ago, be­low the N2 na­tional road.

“It is quite dis­turb­ing to now think that there are crocs right here in the city. It is also alarm­ing con­cern­ing the race.”

Ga­is­ford said in­ves­ti­ga­tions would be con­ducted.

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