Slice of life: The powers of crocodile meat

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

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday