Black Mamba kills SA judge in Zambia

Labour Court Judge Anton Steenkamp died in Zambia this week after being bitten by the venomous snake. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - Labour Court Judge Anton Steenkamp has been remembered by many South Africans following his death while on holiday in Zambia.

The 57-year-old judge was bitten by a black mamba - an unusual case - since the reptile is usually found throughout southern and eastern Africa.

Johan Marais from the African Snakebite Institute says the mamba is one of the most dangerous snakes in the world but a bite could take hours before killing someone.

READ: Black mamba kills snake farmer

“Usually in a serious bite a person could die between 30 minutes and six hours but in exceptional cases, we can see people die in less than half an hour." 

"It is by no means an aggressive snake and is actually very shy and quick to escape but if you accidently surprise one they will bite in self-defense”, said Marais.

Marais says if you come across a snake then you should immediately take five steps back for safety.

“Anti-venom is a treatment for serious bites but in short term, it’s not a first-aid measure. In this case, if the victim could have gotten to a medical facility, they could have put him on a ventilator that could have kept alive and then you could.”