Recent Articles on the Mamlambo - the Brain Sucker

The Star, Johannesburg, South Africa

April 30, 1997

Nature conservation called to hunt East Cape 'monster'

Bisho - Transkei villagers' complaint about a monster that is said to suck the blood and brains from its human victims was discussed in the Eastern Cape legislature yesterday.

Agriculture and Land Affairs MEC Ezra Sigwela raised the issue for the attention of the house, saying the "half-fish, half-horse monster" was believed to have killed at least seven people trying to cross the Mzintlava River near Mount Ayliff.

Fearful villagers told Sigwela about the monster after his Freedom Day address and demanded that something be done about the beast. The MEC said he believed the story because he had been told of the monster by a prominent community leader.

Kokstad freelance journalist Andile Nomabhunga said he had received numerous reports about the monster. He said he knew of nine people who had been killed since January. The latest victim was a schoolgirl who was buried last month, he said.

Sigwela promised to ask the national agriculture ministry to send nature conservation officers to hunt the creature. - Sapa.

S.Africans fear half-fish, half-horse monster

BISHO, South Africa, April 29 (Reuter) - South African villagers in a remote rural backwater live in fear of a man-eating river monster said to have both fish- and horse-like features, and to have claimed several victims.

Ezra Sigwela, agriculture minister in the Eastern Cape region, told an astonished legislature on Tuesday the monster had gobbled up seven victims in the Umzimhlava [Mzintlava] River in the north of the former Transkei black homeland.

"I'm told it looks like a fish but has the features of a horse,'' said Sigwela, promising to send officials to hunt down the monster.

His remarks drew only a few titters, amid calls of "mamlambo'' -- a reference to a beast from Xhosa tribal mythology which is said to live in rivers and, if caught, provide great wealth.

One sceptic however, Eddie Trent of the white dominated liberal Democratic Party, likened the monster to the myths surrounding Scotland's Loch Ness.

"But as far as I know Nessie hasn't eaten anyone,'' Trent said.

Cape Argus (Cape Town, South Africa), May 16, 1997.

MAMLAMBO ON THE LOOSE Nine people are reported dead in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, all said to be victims of Mamlambo, the river monster.

Most recently the giant reptile was sighted near Lubaleko, a village on the Mzintlava River not far from Mount Ayliff, about 176 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of Durban.

"Like many rural villages in what used to be the Transkei, Lubaleko is scattered over several square kilometers of undulating hillside country. The houses, some made of brick and others of mud, are far apart and linked only by winding footpaths. There is no electricity or piped water."

Police say the victims were drowned in the Mzintlava, which was swollen by heavy rains in Lesotho during the wet season.

"'I have seen some of the bodies of the so-called monster's victims,' Captain G. Mzuko of the Mount Ayliff Police told (the Cape Argus). 'They had all been in the water for some time and, as is often the case, river crabs had eaten away the soft parts of the faces and throats. In one case, the crabs were still clinging to the body when it was brought in. As far as we are concerned, there were cases of drowning, plain and simple.'"

"But to the people of the village, the mutilation just proves the monster's existence. 'It eats their faces off and sucks out the people's brains,' said an elderly Mr. Matshunga, walking the lonely track with his dogs. 'It is a big snake, and I have seen what it does.'" Witnesses describe Mamlambo as being about 20 meters (67 feet) long, with short, stumpy legs, a crocodilian body, plus "the head and neck of a snake, and it shines at night with a green light."

"A group of women returning from a meeting at the village school assured (Cape Argus reporter David Biggs) that the monster was real."

"'We are not just ignorant, superstitious people,' they told me. 'We are teachers. Educated. And we know that the monster is there. That is why we do not cross the river any more."

"Mthokozisi Sigcobeka (age 6) says his father was eaten by the monster. When he's older, he plans to get a gun and hunt it."

Comment: I think that there may be a real animal behind the myth of the mamlambo (possibly a large freshwater catfish, like the electric catfish Malapterus), but I think that it has been "wrongly accused" of the deaths of people who have actually drowned in the swollen Mzintlava River.

Credits: Mark Pilkington, Steven Cole.