By Stanley Nkhondoyachepa, MANA
A Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve Field Operations Manager, David Robertson is in pain while his colleague, a Game Ranger, Thomson Mizeck is battling for his life in hospital after a mob stoned and hacked them with panga knives.
The incident occurred in the morning of Friday in Bamba Village in Traditional Authority Mwadzama in Nkhotakota after an elephant stomped a young woman, Sebita Banda, 21, to death.
Robertson and his colleague, in the company of police officers and a health worker were attacked by the villagers after they had gone to the village for postmortem and appropriate action soon after the elephant had killed the lady.
Two vehicles belonging to African Parks, worth over K120 million were burnt down completely at the height of the fracas which saw the local community vowing to deal with Parks officers.
Police had to call for reinforcement to calm the situation but all in vein. However, it took the initiative of the District Commissioner, council officials, political and traditional leaders to calm it.
Malawi News Agency (Mana) established that a newly wedded couple, Sebita Banda (the deceased), from Nambamba Village in T.A. Chakhaza in Dowa and her husband, Gostino Yosefe, 23, of Mwanza Village, T.A. Kayembe in same district, went to the field to farm when the incident occurred.
The deceased’s husband (Yosefe) who spoke to MANA, said he saw an elephant behind his back coming towards them and alerted his wife immediately.
“I grabbed her by the arm and we both fled and hid in a nearby bush so that the elephant should not see us, but when it charged, my wife got scared and slipped out of my hand and started fleeing.
“Unfortunately, the elephant saw, attacked and crashed her to death,” he said.
Senior Group Bamba corroborated the story and said it was very unfortunate that elephants were attacking people.
Nkhotakota District Commissioner, Dr. Medson Matchaya, while under police escort, led a team of district council officials who included the Police Officer in Charge, District Health Officer and Nkhotakota African Parks Manager among others to calm the situation.
Matchaya expressed sadness at the death of the woman and assured the people the elephant which had caused the death would be hunted and killed.
“It’s very unfortunate that this has happened. We know life is very precious and once it is lost, it cannot be replaced, we understand your reaction, but we plead with you to calm down, we will solve the issue of people and wild animals’ conflict once and for all,” he said.
Earlier, Ward Councilor for the area, Gaziel Chinzere bemoaned the growing incidences of conflict between people and elephants in his area and asked African Parks to look into the problem as a matter of urgency.
“For long, we have been complaining of elephants destroying our crops, now they have started killing us. It appears the laws favour wild animals [more] than humans.
“Once a human being enters the park and kills an animal, they are immediately taken to book, but when it’s the opposite, nothing happens. We demand that the elephant which caused this death be removed,” he said.
It was arranged the body of the late Sebita Banda would be taken to her home district-Dowa to be buried on Saturday, after African Parks agreed to provide transport and make other funeral arrangements.
There has been a long standing conflict between people and wild game, especially elephants in Nkhotakota.
At a stakeholders meeting which took place in Ntchisi in December last year (2019), African Parks said it had completed over 80 per cent of construction works of an electric wire fence around the Park to prevent elephants from going out.