THE sole witness of a horror attack in which a lion farm restaurant manager in Addo was mauled to death by three lions at the weekend has for the first time spoken out about the traumatic incident.
Yesterday, Simon Almanza, 35, described how Addo Croc and Lion Ranch restaurant manager Jan Frederiek Bredenhand, 30, was pulled from the fence of a lion enclosure by a three-year-old lion in the early hours of Sunday and mauled to death before his eyes.
While the ranch’s permits have been found to be in order, the Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs has said it is investigating the incident, through its compliance, enforcement and biodiversity units. “The findings will be made available when the investigation is complete,” said spokesperson Sixolile Makaula.
According to Almanza, who works as an IT specialist on a farm nearby, they had walked to the lion camp shortly after 3am.
He said neither of them was drunk or had taunted the lions, as eyewitnesses who arrived at the scene later had suggested.
“I had had a few drinks, but I was far from p****d. Bredenhand wasn’t drunk, either.
“He had one or two shooters during his shift after patrons bought them for him, but that was all.
“I sat down in front of the fence, when he foolishly climbed that pole (a thick, 2m-high pole next to the gate). I didn’t stop him. I guess I was under the impression that he worked with them (the lions) and I didn’t think anything of it.
“I don’t think he had been up there for more than 15 seconds – it wasn’t long. Then one of the lions reached up and grabbed him. It was very swift. I’m fairly certain he had his legs dangling over the fence while sitting on the pole. As I remember it, the lion grabbed his leg and dragged him down.”
Bredenhand “disappeared” after falling into the enclosure.
In shock, Almanza ran back to the main homestead screaming for help, only to find no-one there.
“Then I flagged Waldo (Le Roux, who had been accompanying his wife to the Mondi Herald Addo Mountain Bike Challenge). He turned around and came back and I asked him to phone the police.” — By BRIAN HAYWARD The Herald