The recent spate of Pit bull attacks on children has split public opinion over whether these dogs should be banned as domestic pets or not.
As calls to ban the breed increase and resistance from Pit bull lovers’ mounts, bereaved families are grappling with the trauma of their loss.
Meanwhile, two grandmothers witnessed the last moments of their grandchildren’s lives during vicious Pit bull attacks. While they both deal with the pain of loss and trauma, each one faces a different reality.
In the case of eight-year-old Olebogeng Mosime, from Vista Park in Bloemfontein, criminal charges have not been laid against the owner of the killer dog.
But 30-year-old dog owner Lebohang Pali, whose two Pit bulls mutilated three-year-old Keketso Saule in Hennenman also in the Free State, faces charges of culpable homicide and cruelty to animals, a cold comfort for the grieving family.
Grandmother Mateboho Saule had this to say.
“I just wanted them to also throw me in the yard as these dogs were ravaging through my grandchild’s small body. I cannot adjust when I remember what happened to him, I really felt that I should be the one who went through that. This is very sad for us.”
Olebogeng Mosime’s grandmother, Siphiwe Litabe says the family has lost an obedient child.
“Really I don’t know what to say, I am so hurt. It is a loss to us as a family. It is such a loss of a child who was so obedient.”
A few metres from the Saule home is the Mamello Creche which the toddler attended. His peers might be too young to comprehend what happened, but one thing is certain, they will never see their friend again.
Head of the social work department and senior lecturer at the University of the Free State, Dr Mpumelelo Ncube, says everyone close to the victims in these attacks will have to receive psycho-social counselling.
“This kind of attacks leave severe scars on the affected families. It is therefore important for families to seek psycho-social treatment because trying to cope on your own is not sustainable.”
[WARNING: GRAPHIC] Pit bull attacks | Should these dogs be banned in SA?
While the Pit bull debate rages on, a 15-month-old child from East London in the Eastern Cape became the latest victim of a dog attack on Tuesday afternoon. The refusal of the dog owner to take accountability for the attack has further fuelled the Pit bull debate. Dog owner and breeder, Cambeno Jansen, has spoekn out in support of the dogs.
“We take care of our dogs, so it will be difficult for us to take them to the SPCA because we have spent a lot of money taking care of these dog and making sure that they are healthy.”
According to the Animal Amendment Act, an owner whose dog inflicts an injury on a person due to negligence may face a prison sentence of up to two years.
Owner of the pitbull that killed a one-year-old won’t take responsibility:
Meanwhile, Lebohang Pali’s brother, Jeffery Morapeli, has called for calm among residents in Hennenman and apologised to Keketso’s family.
“As the Morapeli family and as a brother to Lebohang Pali we send condolences to what transpired. As the Morapeli family we are deeply concern about what happened. This is extremely sad for both families. As a brother to Lebohang we accept what happened and appeal to residents of Phomolong not to take law into their own hands. As a family we plead with the community on what happened we accept it was an accident that can happen to anyone here in Phomolong.”
The Sizwe Kupelo Foundation started its petition to ban Pit bulls as domestic pets in South Africa after 10-year-old Storm Nuku from Port Elizabeth was mauled to death by a Pit bull in September. The recent deaths of Mosime and Saule have only added to calls for a complete ban on the ownership of Pit bulls as domestic pets. Reporting by Kamogelo Seekoei
Calls for banning of Pitbulls as domestic animals: Sizwe Kupelo: