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Legal help for dog attack families

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“As a mother and a member of the community, I feel there should be a distinction between the life of a child and that of an animal.”

FREE legal services have been offered to the families of the victims of the recent pit bull attacks in Ipopeng.

Two children, aged three and seven, were hospitalised and had to undergo surgery after they were attacked by a pit bull terrier in the suburb last week.

A lawyer, advocate Reabetswe Ngakantsi, yesterday offered her services to represent and provide the necessary legal advice to the families of the victims, following earlier threats of possible legal action after the dog was killed.

A video doing the rounds shows members of the community, including the father of one of the children, killing the dog after it attacked the two children last week.

“This will be a pro bono case. I know what these families are going through as I have had a similar situation in my own family. It is unfair that while they are still dealing with their trauma, they still have to deal with the threat of legal action,” Ngakantsi said yesterday.

Ngakantsi elaborated further that it was unfair that the life of an animal was placed above that of a human.

“As a mother and a member of the community, I feel there should be a distinction between the life of a child and that of an animal.”

A formal meeting still has to be scheduled between the two families and Ngakantsi to discuss the way forward.

A large piece of the three-year-old toddler’s scalp was ripped off during the attack last week, while the seven-year-old suffered severe injuries to his face, arms and legs as well as a broken jaw. The seven-year-old has not yet been discharged from hospital.

The owner of the dog was arrested and released the next day.

Hector Maruping, the father of the seven-year-old victim, said that he had not yet been informed that a charge had been opened against him.

“But let those who want to open a case come with what they have, we will fight back,” he said.

Nkululeko Siyeni, the father of the three-year-old, said the owner of the dog had come to the hospital and indicated his intention to take legal action following the animal’s death.

Meanwhile, community members have also rallied around to support the two families and have called for the removal of all pit bull terriers from Galeshewe, saying that the owners don’t know what the dogs were capable of.

“We see people walking these dogs but it is obvious that it is the dogs walking the owners and not the other way around,” one community member said.

Ward 9 councillor Dolly Swazi yesterday also called for stronger by-laws to ensure that pit bulls are removed from society.

Meanwhile, the nine-year-old boy who was mauled by a pit bull in Galeshewe last month remains in a stable condition in the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.

According to his family, the healing process is very slow as the injuries were severe. It is not certain when he will be discharged.

The boy missed out on the first term of school and, according to the family, he continuously asks to go home and back to school.

Plastic surgery will only be performed after his injuries have healed.