Durban - A desperate Zululand father of a one-month-old baby died after being attacked by a swarm of angry bees.
Siphelele Nyawo, 22, who had recently lost his job as a mechanic, went with two friends to a beehive to try to dig out honey when he was repeatedly stung.
His sister Nomvula Ndaweni said Nyawo “was excited about being a father, but when he lost his job he started stressing about how he would support his child”.
In a desperate attempt to earn money he went to find a beehive and get the honey with his friends.
That is where he was attacked by the swarm of bees, said Ndaweni.
Recalling events which led to the attack, Nyawo’s friend Hlanganani Masuku said the three men from eNseleni, near Empangeni, had gone out on Sunday morning to Mposa River in search of a beehive.
“We had matches to burn the hive so we could extract the honey, but before we could even light it the bees started attacking us,” he said.
Masuku said the friends, who were stung repeatedly, fled in different directions to seek protection.
Nyawo and Masuku ran to the river, hoping to swim across and find safety on the opposite bank.
“My other friend fled into the nearby bushes,” he said, adding that when he had made it across the river he realised Nyawo had not made it.
“When I was safe I called out to him but he was nowhere to be seen. I alerted the community and we went looking for him,” said Masuku, adding that Nyawo’s body was found floating in the river hours later.
Empangeni police spokesman Inspector Mbongeni Mdlalose said members of the police diving unit were sent out and subsequently recovered Nyawo’s body.
An inquest docket was opened. “A post-mortem will be conduct to determine whether the cause of death was from the bee stings or drowning,” he said, adding that the fatal attack is the third in the area in as many years.
Mdlalose said a farmer died two years ago after trying to shield his wife from a swarm.
“The wife was also stung, but she survived,” said Mdlalose of the 2011 attack.
Last year a group of boys were attacked in the same area. “The boys were all stung and they scattered in different directions.
“A 12-year-old boy who was with the group disappeared and his body has never been found,” he said.
Gavin Dawson, a bee keeper and remover from Dawson Bee Removal in Durban, advised people never to try to extract honey without the assistance of a professional.
He said he attends to at least two weekly incidents of bee attacks in Durban, saying the most recent one happened in Tongaat on Wednesday.
“The father, his children and dogs had been attacked. The two dogs died from the bee stings,” said Dawson, who has been a bee remover for 50 years.
The last fatal attack he attended to was late last year. “The best way to protect yourself when being attacked by bees is to cover yourself with a blanket,” he said.
“Running into water won’t help because the bees will wait for you and attack again.”