Simphiwe Xulu. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)
With my generation, we don’t have that much knowledge. But if you talk to our grandfathers they will tell you this type of meat is medicine. We get customers coming to buy it, especially for asthma and other chest problems. You have to have it boiled. It has to be plain as it is, maybe with a pinch of salt. You drink the soup from it and eat the pieces of meat.
We do also sell the fat. Many of my customers come and ask for it. Afterwards they will come and say ‘thank you, this helped us’. I don’t use it myself, but I believe them.
About 50%, especially the female customers, want it for medicinal purposes. A lot of people around here believe in its powers. People from the municipality, from Tongaat-Hulett.
It plays with your taste buds. It doesn’t give you one thing.
We sell around 30kg a month. It’s not that much. Festive season you sell a lot. It’s a bit pricey, but people still want it. Not everyone can afford a kilo, so we sell pieces from about R40 upwards. Local people from Hambanathi buy smaller amounts.
There was a lot of fear in the beginning, especially when they saw the pictures. But once people tasted it, they loved it. Still, there are people around here who are scared. There are times I have to take down my advertising board. They don’t want to see it. — Simphiwe Xulu, 38, the crocodile butcher of Hambanathi township near Tongaat, as told to Paddy Harper