When local snake catcher Nick Evans rescued a python from a school near Hazelmere Dam, KwaZulu-Natal, early in September, he had little hope it would survive.
But, despite being stoned and stabbed, this Southern African python made a full recovery. Evans released it in a protected area on Saturday morning.
"This is a very lucky snake," he told News24.
A security guard at the school used bricks to pelt the snake before putting it in a beer crate, Evans said.
When the python escaped from the crate, a groundsman at the school threw a brick on its head.
It also had a nasty puncture wound, Evans said.
"One of the main injuries was a puncture on its neck. There was a lot of sand in it. The vet washed it out, put it on a course of antibiotics and stitched it up."
The wound, he said, healed "pretty nicely".
"Miraculously, it missed all the vital organs. If it went in about an inch higher, I don't think it would have survived," he said.
Once the swelling around the snake's head subsided and it started eating, Evans knew he could set it free.
He said the snake measured between 2.5 and 3 metres. The Southern African python is SAA's largest snake and can grow up to roughly 5m, according to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi).
Evans emphasised that pythons didn't go around eating people.
"People watch Anaconda and they think pythons are the snakes in Anaconda," he said.
He also warned people against hurting Southern African pythons as they were a protected species.
"It's cruel to beat them and stab them like that and it's illegal," Evans said.
He asked that people call snake catchers to capture and relocate the reptiles.