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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 13:10 GMT
Snake panic in South Africa bank
South African police are looking for a man who released several poisonous snakes at a bank in a revenge attack after his car was repossessed.

A worker at the bank was bitten as he tried to catch one of them amid scenes of panic in a branch of the Absa Bank in Johannesburg.

The customer Abel Manamela went into hiding after carrying out his threat to act if his car was not returned.

The Absa bank has confirmed it is in dispute with Mr Manamela over the car.

Issuing a statement to the media from his hiding place, Mr Manamela said he walked into the bank and "I asked people to move away so that they would not get bitten, then I put my bag on the floor and opened it".

The five snakes then slithered into the reception area as panicking staff and customers ran away.

Mr Manamela fled in the ensuing chaos.

Attempted murder

Police spokesman Chris Wilken said they are investigating a charge of attempted murder.

Mr Manamela said he released 15 snakes at the bank during the incident.

"I had 10 puff adders, three mambas and another two cobras," he said,

But a statement from Absa bank said only five snakes were released and they were all captured by the Johannesburg emergency services.

The bank's spokesman Errol Smith said the angry customer had also written a letter warning them not to harm his snakes.

Mr Manamela said he bought a car in 1998. He believed he did not owe any money on the vehicle when it was taken from him.

He has warned that he will target Absa bank branches in South Africa if the dispute is not resolved.




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