By Chrispin Inambao
A mother with an infant strapped on her back were last Thursday mauled to death by a hippo after they were tossed into the Zambezi River when the pachyderm wildly rammed a rubber boat ferrying them to Zambia for shopping.
Last Friday Masubia Chief Kisco Liswani III who received the news from one of the daily tribal briefings he holds with his coterie of advisers, narrated this heart-rending saga.
The chief said the incident took place in the Schuckmannsburg area.
After it rammed the boat, the enraged hippo shredded it to pieces using its tusks.
At the time tragedy struck shoppers were rowing and steering the engineless rubber boat towards mid-stream in the direction of Mwandi in Zambia, where they often go shopping due to lack of shops and basics on the Namibian side of the river.
The beast would have mauled more people from the boat but most fortunate for them villagers in dugout canoes in Zambia who witnessed the horrific incident immediately came to their rescue, plucking them from the river into the canoes away from harm’s way.
On compensation Liswani III feels ideally problem animals such as elephants and hippos should be hunted down and villagers should receive the meat, regarded as a delicacy.
And previous resolutions for villagers to benefit from the game meat of ‘trouble animals’ and for traditional authorities to be allocated trophy money are yet to be realised.
Liswani III expressed concern that 18 years after independence retailers still shun the Schuckmannsburg area, prompting villagers to undertake risky trips to Zambia across the Zambezi River under whose surface hippos and crocodiles lurk waiting to attack.
Apart from prospects for retailers to invest in that area seeming forlorn, this community largely depends on health facilities in Zambia, said the chief who used the brief interview to appeal for an immediate administration of a State tonic to remedy the situation.
“Our people in the low-lying areas of Kabbe seem to be depending on Zambia for everything from medicine to the barest of essentials, this needs to change,” he said.
He estimates the number of lives lost each year to hippo and crocodile attacks on the Zambezi River stretching from Katima Mulilo to Impalila to range in the dozens.
To make matters more worrying, the number of these herbivorous and semi-aquatic beasts seems to have multiplied resulting in an escalation in ‘conflict’ pitting the wild animals on one hand and humans on the other who stray into their natural habitat.
In a development unrelated to last Thursday’s tragedy, some human bones were found at Namiyundu in the Schuckmannsburg area in Kabbe Constituency, said the chief.
He further said NDF soldiers should start conducting patrols along the Namibia/Zambia border area to enhance security and to minimise cross-border crime, and that NDF soldiers should not be tasked with collecting refuse, as this should be the task of town council.