There was drama at the Kore homestead yesterday when a 1,5 metre-long snake charged at villagers attending the handover of assistance to the family that lost three members in a veld fire.
The incident took place when Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira who is also Senator for Makonde was addressing the gathering.
People, including elderly women, had to scurry for safety as the snake which was identified as a king cobra kept heading their way in the ensuing pandemonium.
As people scattered in all directions, the slithering venomous snake made its way to a nearby vehicle where the villagers were seated and hid under the bonnet.
Brave male villagers stealthily opened the bonnet after the engine was started and the snake would raise its head from the engine compartment, ready to strike.
It could not be located for a while, prompting the villagers to resume their seats before Minister Mupfumira continued with her address.
After the handover of goods that included packets of rice, kitchen utensils and $140 cash, villagers combed the vehicle. They eventually located and killed the snake as villagers spoke in hushed tones about an incident they described as uncharacteristic.
“I did not see the snake coming, but heard people shouting and I ran away. We think it could have come from a nearby anthill, but for it to keep coming where people were seated seems very strange. After what happened to the family recently, we do not know what to say,” said a villager.
Another villager said there were rumours of an avenging spirit after a family’s daughter-in-law allegedly died under mysterious circumstances amid calls for appeasement. The family, however, does not believe in avenging spirits as they are devout members of the Johanne Marange sect.
Area chairperson Mr Benny Makumbe said these were just “social media” rumours which should not be taken seriously. Mupfumira calmed people down saying it was just a snake which, could have been roaming around after the fire which destroyed nearly 500ha of land in the area.
“I see people have panicked, but snakes do roam about especially now that the grass was destroyed by fire,” she said.
The minister had visited the Kore home following the death of Peter Kore (39), his wife Germina Sotera (35) and their niece Edith Gwite last week in a veld fire.
The three died after they were trapped by a veld fire they were trying to put out together with other villagers in the Matoranjera area.
They were buried on Tuesday. She urged the community to make peace even with the suspect who allegedly started the fire saying the elderly woman had also suffered trauma.
“We want people to live in harmony and learn from this incident to implement fire suppression methods being taught by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
“No one would deliberately start a fire to cause any harm,” she said. EMA provincial manager Mrs Eunice Mutepfa said people should take extra care during this period as chances of runaway fires were high.
She said people should put fire-guards to minimise the chances of fires spreading in the event that they get out of control. The handover was attended by Makonde Member of the House of Assembly Kindness Paradza who urged Government to engage leaders of the Johanne Marange on their refusal to use conventional hospitals and medicine.
This follows an incident where the Kore family and church members refused to bury Kore and niece Gwite because they had been taken to the hospital.
“We want Government to intervene because they even refuse to immunise their children in breach of the Constitution,” he said. Minister Mupfumira said she would take up the issue with apostolic sect leaders whom she sometimes meets