Hyenas torment terrified villagers

JEFFREY Mokoena is lucky to be alive. He is nursing serious wounds he sustained fighting off a hyena in the heat of the night at his home in Marite village, near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga.

The 34-year old Mokoena, who was attacked a week ago, is one of several villagers who have complained they were being terrorised by hyenas that attack them and their domestic animals.

"It was midnight when I heard my dog barking. So I went outside to investigate. I saw the hyena dragging my dog towards the nearby sugar cane fields."

"When it saw me it tried in vain to get away as the gate was closed. It then came straight to where I was standing and bit me several times as I tried to kill it," Mokoena said.

Fortunately for Mokoena, he was bitten only on his hands before the hyena ran away.

Villagers claim that the animals usually emerge from nearby bushes and kill their dogs and other domestic animals.

Pet owners who spoke to Sowetan yesterday said the hyenas also attacked them when they tried to rescue their animals.

Donelia Mashiloane, 19, said she was living in fear because the hyena that killed two of her dogs had not been captured.

"We are not safe because the hyena that we saw at the weekend has managed to run into the nearby bushes," Mashiloane said.

"Another thing that gives me sleepless night is the fact that my sister has a three-year- old child. I keep imagining that one day hyenas will find her playing outside and harm her."

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency chief executive officer Charles Ndabeni was reluctant to comment because he said he was not aware of the incidents.