Leopard attack survivor, Ofentse Humu, says he is determined to get government compensation despite resistance by the Department of wildlife and National Parks (DWNP).
As he recovers from injuries sustained from his brave fight with the big cat, Humu’s hope for compensation we’re shattered recently as he painfully learnt from the Wildlife authorities thatgovernment will not pay for his agony and loss of income.
Humu, a self employed automechanic says he was attacked by the leopard at his Mogotlhwaneng cattlepost near Mahalapye when he was out looking for a stray cow with his friends.
When his friends fled the scene upon seeing the leopard, Humu bravely fought the feline and was rescued by one of his mates who returned and knocked the life out of the cat with an axe.
Humu sustained deep gashes on his head and body. “I have constant headaches and I can’t work anymore because I constantly have to visit the hospital without getting any better. I can’t get any government compensation because the law does not provide for such,” he says.
While he admits that people are allowed to kill problem animals to protect themselves and their property, Chief Wildlife Officer- Rexboy Mokandla, says government is not obliged to compensate such victims.
For Mokandla, Humu’s case resides in a distant memory, but he admits that it is one of the many that have been reported at his office.
“Some of the cases are legitimate but some are not, so we thoroughly investigate all reported cases as some victims get attacked while illegally hunting in protected areas.”
The department however says it covers funeral costs in the event of death, while survivors are not entitled to any payment.
The least they can get, Mokandla says is an ‘ex gratia’, a small payment done from a sense of moral obligation rather than because of any legal requirement.
“The law does not provide for any compensation. The victim is also required to go to a government hospital where they will get free treatment,” Mokandla said.
While he could not readily provide statistics of survivors of wild animal attacks, Mokandla says the DWNP has recorded about 13 fatalities since 2017.