NEWCASTLE, KwaZulu-Natal – Concerned residents of Blaauwbosch village in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, are worried that there will be more victims of vicious dog attacks in the area unless local authorities take action, OgeneAfrican’s Sibusiso Mdlalose reports
Two incidents of vicious dog attacks in Blaauwbosch have since claimed a life of a 55-year-old man, while a 61-year-old man had to have his leg amputated as result of rabies infection.
Mdikhoni Shabalala, a former security guard, is now an amputee after being mauled by a pack of crossbreed dogs in September last year (2018) when he was on his way home from visiting his brother.
Eight months later, Fakazi Ndlovu became another victim of ferocious attack by dogs in May this year when on his way home from a local shebeen. But Ndlovu, 55, was not lucky as Shabalala, as he later died of his severe injuries in hospital the following day. This was an eighth mauling in the area since 2017.
Relating his ordeal at his home, Shabalala’s facial expression changes when recalling how vicious dogs pounced on him, scratching and biting his body mercilessly.
“It was at about 9pm when I was on my way home from visiting my brother who had thrown a party just a few streets away from my home. I was about 20 metres near my home when a group of dogs emerged from nearby homes running and started to attack me. As I was not even carrying a stick, I tried to fend off the attacking dogs with my hands and feet but to no avail as they were in numbers, about nine of them, and were very vicious. And in no time I had found myself having lost a balance and they were all over me, biting me and I was screaming for help. I thought I was dying at that moment, and I decided to lie face down, otherwise they would have slit my throat. Luckily, the neighbours had heard my screams, and had come to my aid. When the neighbours arrived at the scene the dogs ran off, but they had already severed my leg and I was bleeding profusely,’’ explains Shabalala.
“Just a week after my release from hospital I went to Madadeni police station to open a case (in October) against the owners of the dogs that had attacked me. The case was opened and I still have a case number with me. But I was disappointed when early this year in March an investigating officer came to tell me that my case had been struck off the roll. When I asked him how that could have happened without me being informed, he told me that he would enquire about that from the prosecutor who dropped the case. But the investigating officer has still not communicated with me, and I am worried that justice may never take its course despite that I have sustained this serious injury which has changed my life forever,’’ lamented Shabalala, a 61-year-old father of two daughters and son.
Xolile Breakfast, a concerned resident, is the one who witnessed Ndlovu’s dog attack on the night of 28 May and came to his rescue, by even calling an ambulance.
“We are living in fear because of these dogs’ attacks. It is a concerning matter and something must be done to stop this continued dog attacks in this area, because more residents will be victims of these rabies-infected dogs. The local ward councillor needs to call SPCA officials to give awareness to community members about dangers of rabies and encourage dogs’ owners to have their pets vaccinated,’’ says Breakfast.
Ndlovu’s nephew, Phumlani Ndlovu, says they still want to see justice taking its course regarding the dogs’ owners.
“We still want to see justice following our family member’s death. Four of the dogs that bit my uncle belong to the owner of the shebeen from where he had been a regular customer, and nothing has been done since then by the police despite that we opened the case. The police didn’t even give us a case number. They only promised to come and investigate, but they have still not come until now,’’ says Phumlani.
Inspector Suveshin Naidoo of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Newcastle, said it is not their duty to deal with the cases of animal attacks on people.
‘’We usually give awareness to community members about dangers of animal diseases, like rabies, and encourage them to have their pets vaccinated because the animals infected with rabies, especially dogs, can be very dangerous to people. But in cases where a person has been attacked by a dog or any other animal, he or she must open the case with the police, because that is a criminal offence against an owner of the animal when his or her animal has attacked a person,’’ explains Naidoo.
According to Animals Matters Amendments Act of 1993, Act No.42, any person as a result of whose negligence an animal causes injury to another person shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.
South Africa has the highest number of dog attacks in the world, relative to population. News reports have revealed over 10 reports of dog bites for 2019 countrywide, and in South Africa dogs account for 76% to 94% of animal bite injuries.
January this year, a 5-year-old girl was attacked and killed by pit
terriers in White River area in Mpulanga province. While an 83-year-old
woman, Philile Dlomo, from Mpushini area near Pietermaritzburg,
KwaZulu-Natal province, was allegedly savaged to death by the crossbreed
dogs in February.
Madadeni, Newcastle, police spokesperson Constable Nonjabulo Langa said,” The case
docket of Shabalala’s case was sent to court on January 21 (2019) for a per
curiam decision. And was recently returned to the investigating officer with a
few queries that the investigating officer and Shabalala have to do, before the
final verdict take place.
“In Ndlovu’s (deceased) case, the case was opened as an inquest with a police official as the complainant. It is due to this, that Ndlovu was not able to receive the case number as he is not listed as the complainant. However, the case number is written on the document that he received after the post-mortem, along with the investigating officer’s particulars. Ndlovu’s nephew is urged to contact the investigating officer of the case (Constable LC Sokhulu). Both cases are still under investigation.”
Sibusiso Mdlalose 063 949 1865