Snake appears in court, lion becomes two hyena

2012-04-12 00:00

THE early bird always catches the worm, the saying goes.


But when Pietermaritzburg High Court cleaner Catherine Zuma arrived early at work yesterday, she came face-to-face with something far larger and more frightening.

Zuma spotted a snake in a box filled with documents in the court corridor.

“I was so shocked, I screamed and ran for my life. My day was completely ruined by this,” said Zuma, who has been working at the high court for 12 years.

“It was very scary and I never once thought I’d see a snake at work. I won’t feel safe at work any more.”

Court security was summoned, but did not find the reptile.

The wheels of justice continued to turn uninterrupted as officials looked at other ways of solving the problem.

Court manager Phyllis van Rooyen called the SPCA, but it was snake catchers from Ezemvelo Wildlife who arrived instead.

“Catch the cockroaches too,” shouted a legal eagle, dressed in a black lawyer’s gown, who peered around a corner keeping her distance.

Another court worker, who read yesterday’s front page in The Witness about a predator on the loose in Zululand, shouted: “It’s a lion in Ulundi and a snake in the court”.

Snake catcher Mark van Wyk remarked that the reptile that Zuma spotted might be a Natal Black Snake (Macrolaps microlepidoyus).

“It’s a semi-poisonous snake,” he remarked, attracting gasps from the gathered onlookers.

Despite their best efforts, Van Wyk and colleague Tian van Jaarsveld were unable to find the snake and left instructions for them to be called again, should it reappear.

As for the lion on the loose in Ulundi, Ezemvelo issued a statement yesterday saying there had been a mistake, and that the predator in fact turned out be a hyena.

Officials had thought they were looking for a lion, because both animals have similar paw prints, it said.

Game rangers had been dispatched overnight on Tuesday to try and trap the lion. A recording of lions eating was played in the hope of luring the predator to join in on the meal, but two hyena appeared instead.

The pair disappeared when they realised they were being lured and now Ezemvelo is on the look out for two hyena instead.

“The team will not rest until the hyenas have been captured,” it said, adding that under normal circumstances hyena will not attack humans as they are shy and cowardly.

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