The community of a snake-infested area is living in fear after a schoolboy was rescued from the grip of a giant python.
The people of Tekwane North, near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, do not have toilets and have to relieve themselves in the snake-infested mountains.
On Monday, Donald Nkosi, 13, was nearly killed when a large python coiled itself around his body and started squeezing him.
The grade 7 schoolboy was rescued by a passing motorist who shot and killed the reptile, which was about to swallow him.
Donald told Sowetan from his family's RDP house that he saw something that looked like "three wheels" rolling towards him and when it got closer he saw it was a snake.
"It lifted its head in front of me and played with its tongue and then started coiling over my body. I grabbed the tongue and pulled.
"After a struggle that lasted a few seconds I felt a cramp in my arm. I released the tongue and the snake disappeared into the thick bush," he said.
But before Nkosi could pick up his school bag to continue with his trip to school the python was back. And this time it coiled itself all over his body.
Nkosi freed one of his hands and tried to fight the snake. But he became weak as the snake squeezed him.
"I got dizzy and could not see clearly. I then heard gunshots and the snake released me," Nkosi said.
When he opened his eyes he saw a man loading the python into his car.
The man took the boy to school and drove away with the snake.
"He told me not to take his car's registration number because as he was scared of being arrested, like the man who killed a crocodile last year," Nkosi said.
"He also told me that the snake will make him rich," he said.
Nkosi was admitted to Themba Hospital for two days and is now recovering at home.
His left arm and upper body ache, and he struggles to move.
His mother, Thandi Magagule, said there had been a few cases of people in the area being bitten by snakes, but no one had died.
Those who were bitten have left the area, she said.
George Mondlane, an elderly community member, said snakes roam the area day and night.
Pythons are found in Africa, Asia and Australia and can grow up to 10m long.
Snake experts said the snakes can live to be to 35 years old, and can climb and swim well.
They rarely kill humans and will not attack unless provoked. But females can be aggressive when protecting their eggs.
Nomsa Charles, a snake expert at the Croc River Enviro Park, in Nelspruit, said pythons were prolific in the Lowveld.
She said they were the only snakes that can coil around a human being.
"They only attack when they are hungry and to protect themselves, but they rarely attack people," she said.
Charles said it would take an 8m python to swallow a human being.
The pythons in the area grow up to 6m and cannot swallow a man, but they can kill.