Change a Life Academy
Written by: Nick Tatham
Change a Life star survives mamba bite scare
Pietermaritzburg – Mthobisi Mzolo, a key member of Martin Dreyer’s
Merchants Change a Life Running Academy has been released from hospital
following a Black Mamba bite in February that left him in hospital for
over three months.
Mzolo was tending to his uncle’s cattle in the Table Mountain area near
Nagle Dam on 10 February following his win at the Eston Trail Run the
previous day when he was bitten on the calf by the Mamba.
Fortunately for him his uncle was home and he had a car so they
transported him to the Northdale hospital as quickly as possible.
He was transferred to ICU at Greys Hospital where they administered
treatment following symptoms that suggested the bite was from a snake
that has neurotoxic venom and were able to begin on doses of anti-venom.
The time that had lapsed between bite and treatment meant that Mzolo was
in danger of succumbing to the bite, however he fell into a coma and
remained there for three weeks.
During the period he was in a coma on life support, he had continuous
seizures and there was a stage where they weren’t sure whether he was
going to survive.
“It was heart wrenching to see Mthobisi comatose, such a super athlete,”
said Dreyer. “By far my Academy’s fastest runner! Whatever challenge I
threw his way in the form of hectic tough runs like the Otter Trail Run
and the Cathedral Peak Challenge, he conquered and always finished with
a smile, no matter how shattered he was”.
Slowly but surely his condition improved until he eventually came out of
the coma. He was unable to speak although, remarkably, he was aware of
what was happening around him.
His speech is beginning to return and only recently, he is able to
Since Mthobisi was hospitalized, a long standing joke between Dreyer &
Mthobisi has been Dreyer urging him to get better quickly, because his
Change a Life team mates are getting fat and lazy without him setting a
cracking pace down in the Dusi Valley.
Mzolo’s uncle Mhlaba Mzolo was crucial in getting him to the hospital,
but he played a major role in supporting him through the ordeal and now
will be influential in his recovery.
“It’s still very emotional for me,” Mhlaba Mzolo said. “I spent every
day next to Mthobisi’s bed from 5am to 9pm when he was in ICU.
“When he was just about to come out of his coma we could see that he was
acknowledging us with his head and ears but his eyes weren’t open and he
“We saw him improving all the time and then his eyes opened and he
continued to get better but he still has a long way to go.”
When speaking to people at the hospital Mzolo realised how incredible
the recovery of Mthobisi was in that it was something that they had
never encountered before.
“After two months in ICU they didn’t want to take him out because they
called him their hero. He had done something that they hadn’t seen
“I remember the doctor saying ‘we learn as we live’.”
Mthobisi was discharged from Greys Hospital on Wednesday, 22 May having
been in hospital for 101 days following the bite.
Being back at home has given them more hope that he will get back to his
fighting best but they know that it is going to take a lot of time.
“The doctors said that it could take nine months for him to make a full
“He is very positive and so are we. He is still very weak and we have to
care for him all the time.
“We are also doing physio at home as well as with the hospital and every
day there is something positive happening. We see an improvement every
“It is going to be a long road but we would love to see him run again,”
an emotional Mzolo added.
download the hi-resolution pic
Change a Life
Academy logo - jpeg
One of Martin Dreyer's Change
a Life Academy's strongest runners Mthobisi Mzolo pictured a week after
coming out of three week coma following a black mamba bite that left him
in hospital for 101 days.
Mthobisi Mzolo (left) and his
Merchants Change a Life Running Academy team mate Mxolisi Zondi
following their Cathedral Peak Challenge. Mzolo has been discharged from
hospital following 101 days after he was bitten by a black mamba near
Nagle Dam in February.
Conditions of usage of photographs:
All photographs supplied and hyperlinked herewith may be used free of
charge, with full credit to the photographer and agency as provided. The
photographs may not be modified or retouched in any way, but may be
cropped to suit the layout requirements of the publications. The
photographs provided may be used exclusively for editorial purposes, and
may be reprinted in any newspaper, magazine, television programme or on
any website. These photographs may not be used for any commercial or
promotional purpose, including but not limited to posters, advertisements,
commercials, promotional email correspondence, point-of-sale material or
any retail promotion. Should such usage be desired, please contact us at
the details below.
Is this of no value to you?
This media release is intended for use by media professionals covering
this specific activity or sport. Should this release not be relevant you,
advise us immediately
and we will be glad to remove your name from
this particular database. It would be useful to us if you could advise us
which subjects you would like to continue receiving releases on.
For any further information, or if you
cannot access the images, or if you need alternative images, please contact:
(031) 764 3017