“We had no fears at all,” said Zanele Ndlovu, recalling the moments preceding climbing into a canoe with her fiancé, Jamie Fox, before going on their tour of the Zambezi River.
Among the longest and most beautiful rivers in Africa that flows into Victoria Falls, the future soul mates couldn’t wait to embark on their adventure… but little did they know, the danger that would await them as they entered what they perceived as safe waters.
“They mentioned: ‘You will see a couple of crocodiles’, but they didn’t warn us they could attack us,” said Zanele, who reaffirmed that’s why they had no inhibitions about the scenic tour on April 30th.
“It is very relaxed water,” added Jamie. “It was a really relaxed time. We didn’t see or hear it or anything.”
Thus, the two were excited as could be when they hopped aboard the 2-man canoe that would take them to the world-famous Victoria Falls.
But soon after they entered the water, their worst nightmare flashed before their eyes. Both Jamie and Zanele recall the mind-numbing incident a little differently. Jamie said he saw the creature’s head first as it “lept” out of the water.
“It took us a couple of seconds to realize it was actually a real crocodile,” shared Zanele just before the animal viciously clamped down on her right arm, yanking her out of the boat.
“It bit me at least three times on this arm,” she shared, pointing to what was once her right limb. “Here it had a little bite, on my thumb,” she added, speaking of her left hand.
As the water filled with blood, Zanele recalls her very first thought: “I am going to die.”
But thankfully, God had a different plan. It turns out the crocodile was no match for this bridezilla-to-be who turned into an underwater warrior in a flash.
“After a while, I thought: ‘No, let me just fight,’” said Zanele.
And FIGHT she did. After thrashing away at the crocodile, she managed to ward off the relentless beast until tour guides could get her to safety.
Though clearly shaken and in great pain, Zanele’s mind instantly transitioned to gratitude that the pain was lessened by the cold.
“Luckily I was freezing cold, which made the pain a bit less,” she explained.
She was immediately airlifted to a Zimbabwe hospital where doctors cared for her amputated wounds.
But it wasn’t long before Zanele’s mind drifted to the wedding day that she had so diligently planned for May 5th.
“We had always planned for our wedding to be on 5 May,” said Jamie, who still really wanted to make that date work as well.
To Jamie’s shock, the doctors had a surprising answer:
“Once the operation was done, after a day or two, the doctor said: ‘We are seeing how well you are managing you injuries.’ He said the hospital would be able to accommodate our wedding, if we had it on the hospital site, at their chapel.”
Zanele was THRILLED at the news!
While the wedding certainly wasn’t as dreamily decorated as they imagined or filled with as many guests in attendance, it still turned out to be the most perfect day of their lives.
Above all, Zanele’s gracious posture of thankfulness is surely to be admired.
Her response to the “unexpected” turn of events:
“Life is unpredictable. You know when they say when you make plans, God laughs? That makes so much more sense to me now.”
“It’s interesting,” she thoughtfully added. “I am more positive now than I’ve always been. It kind of changed my life, in the sense of I almost died. It’s hard for me to explain to someone who wasn’t there. I could have so easily died in there. It is not every day people survive crocodile attacks. So every day I wake up, and I am happy because I am alive.”
Zanele Ndlovu was attacked by a crocodile on a canoeing trip in Zimbabwe, costing her her right arm — but she refused to let that stop her from marrying the love of her life just days later.
“It was the best day of our lives.” https://abc7ne.ws/2I6hoSs
Posted by ABC7 News on Wednesday, May 9, 2018