Known to natives as the “Brain-Sucker,” this quasi-reptilian monstrosity terrorized the villages around the Mzintlava River in South Africa, and was notorious for dragging its victims into its murky depths, where it would devour their faces in order to consume their brains.
Although it often seems that the British Isles have a monopoly on the carnivorous, aquatic water-horse phenomenon, in 1997 the residents of South Africa’s rustic Mount Ayliff region endured a horrific ordeal with their very own predatory aquatic-equine.
Said to inhabit the Mzintlava River, also known as the Umzimhlava River, thise animal has been described by eyewitnesses as being an astounding 67-feet in length. Other descriptions include a long tail, four, stubby legs, a crocodilian torso, a serpentine neck and a horse-like head.
It has even been suggested that this animal may be bioluminescent — not unlike Russia’s Brosno Dragon — as an elderly eyewitness, known only as Matshunga, claimed: “It is a big snake, and I have seen what it does… (it has) the head and neck of a snake, and it shines at night with a green light.”
Witnesses have also claimed that this animal has two, gleaming, green eyes, which — according to native legend — possess the power to mesmerize anyone unfortunate enough to make eye contact with the beast. This is a trait shared with Ireland’s Alastyn and Scotland’s Each-Uisge, which are also said to be able to lure in its victims with an almost hypnotic trance.
Thought by many area natives to be the physical manifestation of the notorious predator known in Xhosa tribal mythology as the Mamlambo, legends of this horrifying creature date back centuries. The Xhosa claim that any warrior brave enough — or foolish enough for that matter — to go toe to toe with one of these monstrous beasts and survive, would be the recipient of a tremendous amount of wealth, not to mention their fair share of prestige.
Like its vicious European cousins — such as the Cabyll-Ushtey and the Dohar-Chu — the Mamlambo is notorious for dragging its victims into its watery domain, where it proceeds to drown them. Once its prey has perished, the Mamlambo then cracks open the skull of its quarry and proceeds to siphon the brains and, ultimately, all of blood from the corpse, hence its graphic nickname.
The key difference between these other aquatic enigmas and the now legendary Mamlambo lies in the fact that unlike these other creatures, the activities of the Mamlambo have been closely tracked by public officials in the area.
In fact, on April 29, 1997, the Reuter wire service reported that at an Eastern Cape legislative meeting held in Bisho, South Africa, the agriculture minister — one Ezra Sigwela — told an astonished governing body that a “half-fish, half-horse monster” had devoured at least seven victims in his region of Mzintlava River.
Sigwela pledged that he would solicit the help of the national agriculture ministry, in the hopes that they would organize a mission of armed nature conservation officers in order to hunt and kill the beast, thus ending its reign of terror.
Kokstad freelance journalist, Andile Nomabhunga, also claimed that he had received numerous reports about this vicious creature. According to Nomabhunga, nine people had been killed since January of 1997. The most recent victim being a young schoolgirl who had been buried only a month before.
Sadly, the family of this young girl were not the only ones mourning in the rural, backwater villages of South Africa. The tragedy seemed to run even deeper as 6 year-old, Mthokozisi Sigcobeka, tearfully recounted his father’s fatal encounter with this mystery monster, concluding with the cryptic vow that when he got older he would get a gun and kill the animal himself.
As in most cases of cryptozoological encounters, the local police state that the monster’s purported victims were actually only drowning casualties, resulting from the swelling of the Mzintlava River during the heavy rains of the Lesotho wet season. Captain G. Mzuko of the Mount Ayliff Police — a firm skeptic regarding Mamlambo accounts — credited crabs for the disfiguring injuries discovered on most victims’ corpses:
“I have seen some of the bodies of the so-called monster’s victims. 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.”
Despite police’s dismissal of native accounts, the villagers who resided near the ominous river claimed that they were not merely superstitious tribesmen — who were desperately grasping at legends to explain away natural occurrences — but educated people who were being terrorized by this savage predator.
Although some physical attributes of this creature vaguely resemble those of other Dark Continent native cryptids — such as Mokele-Mbembe — its crocodile-like body, equine shaped head and carnivorous disposition have led many researchers to surmise that the Mamlambo maybe the South African equivalent of the Congolese, mosasaur-like Mahamba. Others have speculated that — much like the Sudanese Lau — this mystery monster may be akin to the formerly extinct elasmosaur.
The most recent sighting of what was described as a “giant reptile” was reported near Lubaleko, a village nestled on the Mzintlava River in the vicinity of Mount Ayliff — which is located about 110 miles southeast of the coastal metropolis of Durban — in April of 1997. Those who still dwell in the Mount Ayliff area pray that it will never rear its cranium puncturing head again.