Croc hero gets caught in own trap

The man who recently gained himself the dubious status of being Mpumalanga's crocodile hero after claiming to have wrestled with a crocodile for four hours when the reptile attacked him, is now behind bars for killing it.

The arrest comes after the Mpumalanga Nature, Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) discovered that Alex Masinga, nicknamed "Crocodile Dundee", had actually attacked the huge reptile with the help of a friend, Robert Khoza, at a river in Tonga near Malelane about three weeks ago.

MTPA spokesman Jimmy Masombuka said the agency, after conducting a thorough investigation into the matter, discovered the accused had actually trapped the crocodile and even used tree trunks to cage it.

"Our officials nabbed the suspects after discovering there was absolutely no truth in Masinga's excuse that the crocodile tried to kill him because he displayed no visible marks, other than the three holes in his jeans that we suspect he made with a knife," Masombuka told Sowetan yesterday.

Masombuka said MTPA discovered Masinga had cut the holes in his jeans to make it look like the crocodile had attacked him, "but we were not fooled because we know what a crocodile's bite marks look like".

Khoza had also confirmed during the interrogation that he was working for Masinga in poaching crocodiles so they could make a fast buck out of it.

Masinga and Khoza briefly appeared before a Tonga magistrate, where they were not asked to plead on charges of hunting protected game. They were remanded in custody pending their next court appearance on November 13.

Masinga initially claimed to have killed the crocodile with a panga, which it later swallowed, but after a post-mortem was conducted no knife was found.

Instead a piece of snare was found around the crocodile's neck and a fishing net was found lodged between its teeth.