The boy was trying to retrieve his ball when he was attacked.
Cape Town – The family of a five-year-old Gugulethu boy, mauled to death by his neighbour’s two pitbulls, has been left distraught after his violent death on Sunday.
Milani Keke and his friends were playing rugby near his home in NY50 when their ball landed in a neighbour’s yard. The children’s attempt to retrieve the ball would end up with Milani being mauled to death.
On Monday his mother, Nothemba Keke would not speak to this Cape Argus reporter who visited the family home in Gugulethu.
“I am not in a position of talking, please, not today,” she said.
However, another neighbour Gcobisa Mpama said the children were playing rugby outside when their ball went inside a neighbour’s yard and they attempted to fetch it.
“They first cast stones at the dogs so that they moved further from the wall and with the assistance of others the one jumped inside. However, when he was inside trying to climb outside the yard he was pulled by the leg and dragged by one dog and then the other came and attacked him.
“The yard has a high fence and you can’t see anyone inside. Someone shouts at the gate when they want to go inside, but the children did not know the dangers of jumping inside the yard, ” she said.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said a death inquest case had been opened for investigation by Gugulethu police. Rwexana said the incident was currently being investigated, with no arrests made.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it was high time that pitbull owners realised the amount of responsibility that came with pitbull ownership and the tragic events resulting from their failings.
SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham said the two dogs were brought into the SPCA by law enforcement and were in their care.
Abraham said with statistics in Cape Town reflecting an increase in attacks by dogs identified as pitbulls and with countries world-wide instituting breed-specific legislation, there were justifiable reasons to be concerned.
“Victims and witnesses of dog attacks often say things like ’He was the family dog, he had never shown any aggression before’ and ’I did nothing to provoke an attack’ and with the media favouring the reporting of attacks by pitbulls over any other breed, our pitbulls currently have a really big PR problem,“ said Abraham.
She said pitbull ownership required an understanding and acceptance of their genetic make-up and an investment in their environment to maintain equilibrium and avert disasters.
Abraham said pitbulls were made dangerous through irresponsible breeding, a lack of training, neglect and abuse.
“All dogs bite, but an attack by a pitbull is likely to have devastating consequences because of their robust jaw strength, high tolerance to pain and tenacity – the very qualities we found desirable in our quest for a dog that would serve our intended purpose.
“Children running past fenced-off dogs ’tease’ them to the point of them being a tragedy waiting to escape. Barriers cause chronic frustration; dogs locked up in a courtyard, living on a chain or confined to small space, will express one of their instinctive strategies when given freedom, which is freeze, flee or attack.
“Keeping a dog in an environment like this where there is no visual, physical or tactile stimulation results in dogs with a very low threshold for human behaviour, ” she said.
Abraham said the SPCA, together with other animal welfare organisations had made recommendations to the City to change existing animal by-laws in the hopes that this would call irresponsible pet owners to order, avert tragedies and prevent the introduction of breed-specific legislation.