It was a battle that raged for nearly 40 minutes and in the end Ofentse Humu, 38, survived and is now recovering after killing the leopard that attacked him.
Humu was at Magothwana cattle post in the outskirts of Mahalapye East on April 15, 2018 with two other men when the leopard pounced on them from nearby bushes.
While the other men escaped Humu’s legs became as heavy as lead, resulting in the leopard closing in on him.
Then he simply threw caution to the wind and decided to face the feline head-on. With his bare hands, for nearly 40 minutes he struggled with the ferocious animal.
First, Humu grabbed the cat by its forelegs, held them in a vice-grip whilst directing kicks to the abdomen. Humu had a gun in his hands, but dropped it when the leopard pounced on him. He said he would not give up, so he decided to use his hands to fight back. “As we were battling, my head felt like it was being torn apart. Suddenly, blood was running down my face, quickly covering my eyes. That was the time the leopard sank its teeth into my skull and mauled me with its claws ripping my left eye out. I pushed the eye back inside and kicked it continuously,” Humu told The Monitor.The muscular Humu said despite being in pain, bleeding and dizzy, he did not despair as he continued thrusting his strong fist down the leopard’s mouth and smashed out its forefront teeth. “Whilst hitting it with my fists I continued kicking its private parts as well until I saw it bleeding, leaving it in its death throes. The leopard did not give up as it continued mauling me with its claws.
“I continued fighting it, fell down numerous times, but I did not lose hope and courage,” Humu recalled. He said eventually the leopard gave up and collapsed unconscious. One of the two men who had run away came back and finished it off with an axe to its head. “I couldn’t believe I was alive because it had ripped my skull apart. I stood there bleeding. I sustained extensive injuries on my head, face, deep injuries on my back with bite marks all over my upper body. “I was rushed to Mahalapye Hospital who referred me to Nyangabgwe Hospital where I was hospitalised for a very long time,” he said.The bold Humu said the doctor who attended to him said the animal had cracked his skull, causing 10 deep lacerations on the scalp ranging from 3cm in length and 3cm in depth. “I had sustained deep lacerations twice on the face on the right eye and left cheek. Since the attack, I have been having headaches and dizziness. This is something that doctors are aware of, as I have been visiting clinics and hospitals for assistance to no avail. I even went to seek further medical assistance from Department of Wildlife, but they refused to assist me,” he said. He said they (officers at Department of Wildlife) told him that there was no way they could help him as they only compensate for loss of life. “I was shocked and still hurt that Department of Wildlife cannot assist or compensate me because I survived the attacked. This is not fair. Government should find a way to compensate me for the injuries I sustained. I did not attack it, but it’s the other way round. I want to seek further medical assistance from specialists concerning the continuous headaches and dizziness.
My right eye’ sight is blurry, especially when I encounter direct light. My right jaw is not functioning well, because when I chew food I feel pain,” Humu said. Humu who is a mechanic by profession said he was no longer able to work for himself following the injuries he sustained from the attack. “I was self-employed and can no longer work for myself due to the injuries I sustained during the attack. I am a father of three (two boys and a girl) who are still schooling and need my care. I am no longer able to take care of them as I used to. This is really frustrating for not only myself but also the children. I want compensation so that I can be able to find something that can sustain my children, because I can no longer take care for them like I used to,” Humu said.
Principal Wildlife Officer Steven Sekhute, and Rex Mukanda, Chief Wildlife Officer said they were aware of Humu’s case and plea for help following his leopard attack.
“Yes, it is true we are aware that Humu was attacked by a leopard that nearly killed him and I am currently investigating the case to see how best he can get the assistance he needs,” Sekhute briefly said. Asked about the compensation that Humu is requesting from their department, Mukanda said, “I am not the one who is handling Humu’s case, but what I can tell you is that, as the wildlife department, we do not compensate people who get injured by wild animals, but only compensate for loss of life. We cannot compensate him as he wishes, but since he has pleaded with us to help him, we have referred him to social workers. “As we speak, they are in the process of assisting him accordingly as he is no longer able to work for himself due to the injuries he sustained in the attack,” Mukanda said. Quizzed if the department can assist him to acquire better medical assistance, Mukanda said their hands are tied, because they do not compensate or assist in anyway, except in cases where there is loss of life. “If he is still sick or having any pain, as he alleges, he should continue to seek medical assistance from government medical institutions,” Mukanda advised.