RUNDU woman who fought a crocodile off her husband last year in the Kavango River was awarded a trophy for bravery by the Kavango East police.
Elizabeth Shintangu (29) said she never thought her day would turn out with her fighting a crocodile off her husband, Matheus Kativa.
“I still cannot believe that I was so brave as to fight a big crocodile to save my husband’s life,” Shintangu said, adding that it was a terrifying encounter.
“I got up very early to work in our mahangu field. At around noon, I went back home, and my husband wanted to go and take a bath in the river,” she explained.
She said they have been bathing and washing clothes in the river for as long as she can remember.
“For some reason, I discouraged him from going to the river, but he insisted since he wanted to take a bath. I guess this is what people call fate.
“Since he was so adamant, I decided to accompany him. I took along our laundry so that I could do some washing while he was taking his bath,” Shintangu narrated.
She said instead of Kativa taking a bath when they got to the river, he took a nap on the banks of the river, while she washed the clothes.
“When I was almost done, I woke him up because it was getting late. Strange enough, he refused, saying he did not want to bath anymore. Then, he suddenly changed his mind, and went into the river to bath. We chatted while he was bathing,” Shintangu said.
Suddenly, she heard Kativa scream loudly.
Kativa told The Namibian that he still could not believe he was alive. He said while he was in the water, something grabbed his hand.
“It was like a car had fallen on top of me. It was confusing to realise that I was in the grip of a crocodile. I screamed for help, and the next thing I saw my wife on top of the reptile, fighting it. Then it let go of me, and by that time my lower arm had been severed,” Kativa said.
They both tried to swim to the riverbank, and just when he thought the nightmare was over, the crocodile came back and grabbed him again.
“This time I thought it was the end, and I waved my wife goodbye,” he related.
Shintangu said she, however, did not give up on her husband.
“The water was all red with blood. I then saw his face as he waved goodbye. I swam fast after them, and held his left hand and started pulling him back. Part of his right hand was still in the reptile’s mouth.
“When another piece of that arm tore off, the crocodile let go of him. But it came back again, and this time I decided I was not going to let go. I continued screaming as loud as I could, and decided that it was better for the crocodile to take his arm and not his or my life,” Shintangu continued.
She said her screams saved them since other people from the nearby village came to assist, and they were safely pulled out of the river.
Kavango East governor Samuel Mbambo said Shintangu’s bravery is extraordinary since in most cases, people either run away to look for help when a person has been attacked by a crocodile, or they just stand, doing nothing.
“This woman proved to us that we can fight gender-based violence with love, protection and commitment. I am not saying jump in the river and fight a crocodile, but the fact is that she did it without thinking twice. These are positive stories we want to hear, and men must see how prepared our women are to save us from danger,” Mbambo noted.
The Kavango East regional police commander, commissioner Johanna Ndahafa Ngondo, commended Shintangu for her bravery, saying the police give awards for best achievers in the force as well as from the community.
Ngondo said Shintangu’s story touched them all, and they had to reward her.
“This type of selflessness can make us a better society. By this trophy, we also want to boost the morale of our communities and the force,” Ngondo said.
The couple are busy rebuilding what they lost while Kativa was in hospital and could not work in their mahangu fields and look after their cattle.
Kativa said he will forever be grateful to his wife, adding that all women are brave, but they just wait for the right moment.