Mall mamba mania
PANDEMONIUM erupted at Empangeni’s Sanlam Centre on Sunday afternoon as terrified locals witnessed the capture of a 2.3-metre black mamba.
The frightening, life-threatening battle was caught on video, where screams and shrieks by members of the terrified public can be heard echoing through the centre’s shaded parking lot.
This added to the tension for snake handler, Fred Lubbe (72) as he came to grips with one of the world’s most venomous reptiles .
Lubbe said in addition to the distraction of the terrified crowd, the fact that the snake had taken refuge underneath a VW Polo Vivo, made for a tricky scenario.
It could have taken a turn for the worse very quickly.
According to Lubbe, in his 63 years in handling and capturing snakes, he’s only ever had two close encounters in which his life was at serious risk - and this was one of them.
‘I got a call from Sanlam Centre management and rushed out to the scene.
‘A security guard told me he had seen the snake come down from the upper parking lot and when people started getting hysterical, it dashed underneath a vehicle parked close by.
‘The female owner came out of the mall and was told she can’t drive the car because of the snake.
‘The vehicle was parked in the sun and I got a guy who was with me to pull it into the shade.
We looked all over - in the engine compartment, in the chassis – there’s a thousand and one places where a snake can hide in a vehicle.
‘Eventually I got this young guy to jack up the vehicle and I picked the correct side, fortunately.
‘I lay on my back and was using my tong to hit a cover underneath the car. I was sure the snake was behind there and the noise would have brought it out immediately.
‘Nothing was happening and with my head by the left back wheel, I looked up and about 30 centimetres from my head, there it was.
‘I first thought it was a hose going up into the car until I shone my light there and could see its scales.’
Little did he know that the snake’s head had been right next to his the whole time.
‘When I started pulling it out, the head came out immediately but fortunately I managed to get it out with my grab stick safely before it struck.’
Spectator screams turned to cheers and applause as he eventually won the battle and held the mamba up for hordes of photos, selfies and videos.
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