Planning a wedding can be a lifelong dream for many girls. But with planning comes the stress of organising everything. For Zanele, the stress of wedding planning was almost too much, a former tennis player and bride-to-be.
She had been planning her wedding since she was a little child, and nothing was going to get in her way. Despite her detailed planning and attention to detail, Zanele could never have imagined what fate had in store for her.
Zanele had met Jamie, a British charity worker, eighteen months before and was instantly smitten. Despite their cultural differences, the two felt an instant affinity for one another and fell in love.
On Valentine’s Day, he would eventually propose to Zanele. He even went out of his way to approach her family and respect local customs. Fortunately, Zanelle accepted his proposal, and the pair intended to go to England following the wedding.
Jamie and Zanele decided to have one final experience in Africa before their wedding, a “pre-wedding honeymoon,” if you will. As a result, the couple decided to go on a canoe trip down the Zambezi River.
If only they had known how the journey would change the direction of their lives.
Jamie and Zanele were having a great time canoeing down the Zambezi River towards Victoria Falls. The famed falls, known for its towering 350-foot waterfall and rapids, drew travellers from all over the world.
However, it wasn’t simply the rapids that were hazardous; what lurked unseen beneath the surface was just as dangerous.
While the views were breathtaking, the journey as a whole had been pretty dull. But all of that was about to change. After the crew had passed through the rapids and was on their way back to base camp, Zanele felt something hard crash into her boat.
What could it possibly be?
The crash was very strong and it shook the whole canoe. People were scared and were almost toppling. Unfortunately, neither Zanele nor the tour leader was struck by a rock or a log. Something lethal was lurking just beneath the surface.
A dreadful monster straight from your nightmares.
It was a crocodile. The boat rocked hard at first, but they were able to keep it steady. The crocodile then bit down on the canoe, puncturing the pontoon and tipping it.
Zanele, the tour leader Williams, and another tourist were thrown into the sea. And the crocodile was waiting.
The crocodile was not any ordinary crocodile. It was a Nile croc, which is reputed to be one of the world’s largest reptiles. They are typically found in Africa’s shallow seas and are exceedingly territorial and aggressive.
But it was much worse. They’ve also been described as man-eaters due to their violent disposition.
Many of the tour participants offered differing accounts of what happened on the river that day. The chaos that occurred transpired so quickly that no one realised what was going on. Regardless, Zanele was at the wrong place at the wrong moment, accidentally stepping on the crocodile.
This resulted in the crocodile biting down on her arm and dragging her under the water surface.
One of Williamson’s tour trainees seized Zanele’s life jacket and refused to let go. He tried to drag her into his canoe, but the crocodile was too powerful. But the crocodile was very big and very powerful.
Its grip on Zanele was strong. It was so strong that it dragged the trainee into the water as well.
They tried to make the boat back in the upright position. It was then that Williamson saw the croc heading for a kill. This kill move, known as the death roll, locked the crocodile’s prey securely in its jaws while spinning underwater. The prey would eventually drown as a result of this.
Zanele’s life was in extreme danger now. Will this be the end of her?
While Zanele fought the crocodile, Jamie was bewildered and disoriented, unable to see what was happening to his fiancé. He watched in terror as the tour guides attempted to release Zanele from the crocodile.
His heart sank when he saw it. The infamous death roll has begun.
Zanele’s arm broke and tore at her bicep as the crocodile began its death roll. Her upper ligaments were pulled from her limb, followed by a painful pop. Zanele screamed, as the crocodile released her and swam away in an unexpected turn.
Williamson, refusing to wait, grabbed the motionless Zanele and dragged her to shore.
The tour guide instantly called an emergency crew, who sprang into action. Jamie and Williamson attempted to stabilize Zanele while they waited for her rescue. It would take 45 minutes for the helicopter to get on the site, by which time Zanele had gone to shock.
But will Zanele survive this ordeal?
Zanele was brought to the nearest hospital. Her arm was in terrible shape when she arrived at the hospital. What was remained had been stripped down to the bone, and gangrene was already setting in.
The doctors informed Jamie that they would have to amputate her arm since they couldn’t save it.
Despite the fact that Zanele was in excruciating pain and had recently lost her arm, she refused to postpone her wedding. They had worked so hard as a couple to get to that wonderful day, and she didn’t want to let go of that.
Jamie didn’t want to be forced into a wedding with her horrific injuries, but Zanele was adamant. She may have lost her arm to a vicious crocodile, but she was about to marry the guy she loved.
“In one week we went from shock and agony to a truly amazing experience,” explained Jamie. Zanele agreed, “There is always something good about life to celebrate.”
“I just look out and see how beautiful the view is. Sunshine and green. I am happy”
The severe crocodile assault that took Zanele’s arm was quite unusual, according to Williamson, who has been leading adventure tours in the Zambezi for the past 12 years.
While croc attacks occasionally occur in the area, the specifics surrounding this particular attack were perplexing, especially given the predator’s sudden release.
Jamie, on the other hand, is extremely proud of his new bride. He will always remain in awe of her bravery despite the pain and trauma she suffered. He feels her positive view on life will help her heal quickly from her injuries.
Zanele has been recovering since leaving the hospital. Zanele and Jamie will be relocating to the United Kingdom and will plan a proper honeymoon once they have settled in.
The couple has no plans for going on an adventure anytime soon. At least not while kayaking down an African river. The couple both admitted that they would need some time to recover before heading out onto the river.
Through the shock and terror of the incident, Zanele and Jamie’s love never wavered. It brought them closer together, if anything.