Fear of rabies haunts rural village

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

The academic future of a Limpopo boy is hanging in the balance after he was bitten by a donkey.

Given Mashele, 8, a grade 2 pupil at Kubune Primary School at Mphotoane village in Mamaila, Bolobedu, is being given regular check-ups to monitor his condition.

He was bitten by a donkey while playing at a neighbour's house on Friday. He sustained injuries to his right hand and knee.

Peter Geertsema, a state veterinarian, has advised the boy not to go to school until the nature of his illness has been established.

There are fears that the donkey might have been suffering from rabies.

The boy's grandmother, Mamosebudi Matlala, told Sowetan yesterday that her grandson was playing alone when the donkey, which is owned by their relative, came from behind and started biting him.

"I was in the house. I last saw Given playing alone next to our neighbour's house.

"The next thing I heard was people screaming. I went outside to find out what was happening," said Matlala.

She said passers-by, who saw the donkey attacking the boy, were screaming for help.

"I could not believe my eyes when, for the first time in my life, I saw a donkey biting a human being."

Shortly after the incident, villagers gathered at the offices of the local traditional authority, where a decision was taken to kill the animal.

It was shot six times, but would not die.

A large panga was used to kill it. Its throat was slit.

Its head was taken by Geertsema, the vet, for rabies testing.

The community used tyres to burn the donkey's remains.

Edwin Sehlare, secretary of the Mamaila traditional authority, said the community was relieved that the animal had been killed.

Given is being treated at Nkhensani Hospital in Giyani.