A young Zimbabwean boy whose face was partially torn off when a hyena tried to drag him away by the head after attacking him at an all-night religious vigil is to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Rodwell Ngomazana, aged 8, suffered severe facial injuries when the hyena attacked him at an all-night prayer meeting in the village of Benzi in Zimbabwe’s Zaka District on the night of 7th May.
He had been attending the service with his grandmother, 62-year-old Martha Sasikayi, when the attack took place with the hyena clamping its jaws around his head and trying to drag him away.
The attack left him with one eye and serious injuries to his cheeks, nose and upper lip.
He was rescued by church members and taken to hospital in the city of Masvingo before being transferred to another hospital in the capital, Harare, where he received further treatment.
The efforts of paediatricians, general surgeons, plastic surgeons and nurses took him out of danger. However, he was still left in need of facial reconstruction.
A poignant photo shows the youngster sitting on his hospital bed reading a book alongside a nurse with his entire head bandaged, leaving just holes for his eye and mouth.
Rodwell was offered the procedure in Zimbabwe, but his parents expressed their wish for it to be carried out in neighbouring South Africa, although it is not specified exactly where.
The boy’s mother, Charity Mabika, has appealed to the generosity of members of the public to pay for her son’s medical expenses.
According to the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare: “Some well-wishers have now offered to airlift the child to South Africa for the required facial reconstruction and rehabilitation.”
Hyenas are typically timid around humans, but they are known to sometimes prey on them, typically children, at night.