Rescued snakes to be given back to owner

2014-08-22 00:00

TWO exotic snakes rescued in an accident on the N3 in Mooi River last week, will be returned to their owner today.

The snakes, identified as red-tailed boa constrictors, had been receiving treatment from Free Me KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Their owner, Bongani Cele, who is a traditional healer, sustained life-threatening injures and was rushed to hospital.

One snake died at the scene.

Bradley Cele, Bongani’s brother, confirmed the snakes will be fetched from the centre but Free Me was not aware of that.

Cele said the snakes were Amakhosi (ancestors) and were used in healing.

“I did not know that the owner was going to be released from hospital today [yesterday], but I was aware that he would be collecting the snakes at some stage,” Free Me manager Roz Marias said.

“There should be no problem with handing the snakes back to him as he is the owner. The smaller snake is doing well. She will be on antibiotics for the next week.”

Marias said the collection may not be free. “The SPCA may charge a fee for the collection of the snakes from the accident site and for overnight housing.”

The manager added the snakes should be treated cautiously and with respect. “These snakes are non-venomous and kill their prey by constricting them, but they can still inflict a nasty bite. They should only be handled by people who have sufficient knowledge to prevent harm to themselves or the snakes.”

The Witness visited Lockhat Centre where the traditional healer operates from, but there were no other snakes. In his dimly-lit room there were snake skins, animal skins and bottles of muthi made on the premises. Bradley refused to say where Bongani got the snakes from.

Bongani’s wife, Lindi Buthelezi, refused to divulge his whereabouts. “I won’t reveal which hospital he was taken to. He’ll be released today and he will be working this weekend,” she said.

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