Leopard attack survivors are frustrated after not being able to receive much-needed assistance and answers from the Kruger National Park (KNP) regarding stray animals trespassing into the area.
A boy was attacked by a stray leopard in Matsulu outside Mbombela, Mpumalanga. The neighboring community of Kruger National Park believes that the leopard had been roaming the area for some time before the attacks. It said that the aggressive leopard was preying on dogs and livestock before it turned on humans.
Leopard attack survivors left traumatized
The incident involving Afrika Mhlongo (22) took place at around 09H30 – 10H15. Mhlongo and his younger brother were both on their way to their grandmother who lives a walking distance from their home when the leopard emerged from a shallow ditch next to the road.
Afrika Mhlongo (22) said his younger brother managed to escape without harm while he was left to face the deadly animal by himself. The animal overpowered him forcing him to the ground, where instinctively began screaming for help as the animal tried to rip his face off.
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Mhlongo says that he managed to distract the animal with his loud scream, Mhlongo screamed from the top of his lungs, veering off the assault by irritating it with his outcry. Mhlongo said at one point he thought he was done for and that the animal would peel his face alive.
A leopard was killed by residents in Matsulu near Mbombela on Thursday 22 July 2022. The stray leopard was stoned to death after it attacked four people in the early morning of the day. The leopard attacked three men and one young schooler who was going to school on the said day.
WATCH: Leopard survivor seeking legal actions against @SANParksKNP @SANParks @Mtpatourism after he was brutally attacked by a stray leopard near home (Matsulu near Mbombela). #LeopardAttack #krugernationalpark #Mpumalanga #Matsulu pic.twitter.com/cNeLQOcNrc— Noos Today (@NoosToday) July 24, 2022
Survivor sustained lacerations on the head and body
Noos Today visited Mhlongo, where we found him laying on his bed, unable to walk and talk properly. Mhlongo says he sustained lacerations on the head, left cheek, right arm, and right leg, however, he was more crippled by the trauma of events that took place rather than the physical ordeal.
He had to slowly and carefully open his lips to voice out a single word.
The 20-year-old told said due to the severity of his attack, he is seeking legal advice to challenge SANParks. He expressed that the park must take accountability.
Mhlongo said what hurt him is that he was attacked inside the residential area, far from the Kruger National Park yet he is left with physical and psychological scars with no one to account for it. Mhlongo is also in need of Psychological counseling as he is unable to get by on a day-to-day basis. He said after he went to the hospital for medical attention, he was not offered counseling.
No counseling for leopard attack survivor
The duo is amongst three different victims who are part of the leopard attack survivors. The three victims involve a 20-year-old Nothando Buthelezi who is doing her matric at Sibusisiwe Secondary School. Buthelezi was walking to school when the leopard attacked her. She said after the animal forced her into the group, two men saved her from the leopard.
Her mother Sibongile Nkosi said they hope that she is compensated by the Kruger National Park and or Mpumalanga Tourism Na Parks Agency. She said her daughter is traumatized and is scared that she might fail her matric due to the psychological trauma she sustained.
Another victim is still fighting for his life in hospital. The 23-year-old victim’s mother told Noos Today that their son was brutally attacked, and his face was peeled, including his cheek, one eye, and ears amongst other things. The family is also seeking legal action against the Kruger National Park.
Safety authorities distance themselves
The SANpark said they cannot comment on animals that are spotted roaming in the neighboring areas adding that they are not certain if the animals are from the nearby game reserves.
Meanwhile, The MTPA is aware that there are animals that trespass into the area however, they have only cautioned the community to be safe and call safety authorities when they are confronted by these wild animals.