Boy quiet as snake swallows him

2002-11-23 11:02

Lamontville - "The snake was bent around him. He didn't cry at all. Then the snake swallowed the boy. All the time he never made a sound," a witness to the gruesome incident in Lamontville said on Friday.

Khaye Buthelezi (11) was among a group of about eight boys picking mangoes in the veld between Lamontville and Umlazi when one of them was allegedly constricted and swallowed by an African Rock Python two weeks ago.

Khaye said he had only met the boy once before, and does not know his name or where he came from. Describing the events, he said they were all in one tree when the boy decided to try his luck at another tree that was about 20 metres away.

The remaining boys continued picking mangoes until one of them suddenly said: "Look at that boy!" At that stage the python had already coiled itself around the boy and was crushing him to death.

"We all kept quiet because we didn't want the snake to know we were there too," said Khaye. He said the group remained transfixed, and watched in horror as the python slowly swallowed the boy head first along with his blue shorts and red T-shirt.

"The boy's eyes were closed, his head was back and his hands were by his sides. He never made a sound the whole time and he never moved," said Khaye. He said the python rolled down the hill instead of slithering away once it had completed its grisly meal.

Khaye and his friends then returned to their homes, but none of them spoke of the incident. He said he had nightmares of the snake eating him for a few days, before he began sleeping peacefully again.

He eventually confided in his grandmother last Sunday, after once again experiencing difficulty sleeping.

Khaye vowed never to venture into the veld alone again, but took the opportunity to quickly fill his pockets with mangoes when he showed journalists the spot where the incident allegedly happened.

While scepticism has been heaped on the story from some quarters, snake expert Craig Smith is convinced Khaye is telling the truth.

He said the boy rendered a vivid, accurate account of the events that left him in no doubt.

He added that he has seen evidence at the scene of the alleged event of an adult python measuring between five and six metres.

Police searched for the python with three dogs without success, and are puzzled because no child has been reported missing in the area. Searches involving community members were also unsuccessful.