The attack of a man by two pit bulls on Monday March 21 sparked huge debate among animal lovers, residents and people on social media.
Wayne Kayster, 34, from Lotus River, subsequently died of his injuries on the way to the hospital.
A video of the attack has gone viral on Facebook, with almost 200 000 views and thousands of comments and even sympathy for the dogs’ owners after one of the pit bulls was shot and killed by police.
Mr Kayster was attacked at the premises of the dog’s owner in First Avenue, Lotus River, around 3pm.
Because of this people on social media have come to the defence of the pets, saying the dogs were protecting the owner’s property.
Although it is not clear what exactly happened on the day of the attack, the video shows Mr Kayster lying in the yard and being repeatedly attacked by the dogs. Bystanders, who filmed the incident, screamed at him to lie still so the dogs wouldn’t attack him again but by that time he was already severely injured, with bite wounds to his throat and all over his body.
Mr Kayster’s cousin, Evander Demas rushed to the scene when he heard about the attack.
“I ran to where they said he was and when I got there he was already bitten very badly. We tried a couple of times to save him by getting him out of the yard but every time the dogs looked like they were going to attack us,” said Mr Demas.
In the video people are seen throwing stones and sticks to deter the dogs but it did not stop the attack.
Mr Demas said it was unfortunate that his cousin died. “He didn’t have to die. The dogs attacked him too viciously,” he said.
Mr Kayster’s sister, Marilyn Rassie said her brother was not a criminal, as had been claimed by some.
“He was not a thief. He didn’t work but he went around to people and asked to do odd jobs, asked for food and even collected scrap, but he never stole from anyone and he has never been in trouble with the law (the police),” she said.
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“People are saying such bad things about him. They’re saying that he was trying to break in and that he’s a thief. I don’t know what happened on that day and I know many people are asking why he was in the yard in the first place and I can’t answer that but I can say that he was not a bad person. He used to use tik but he would go out and collect scrap and do odd jobs to support his habit,” said Ms Rassie.
The family believe Mr Kayster had peeked over the wall and was dragged over by the dogs. They also claim that someone might have thrown Mr Kayster into the yard.
“We’ve heard that he was being chased by a group of people and we think that he might have been thrown into the yard as a joke. Everyone in the neighbourhood knows that those dogs are there, including him, why would he willingly go in the yard? It doesn’t make sense,” said Mr Demas.
Southern Mail couldn’t confirm these allegations.
When Southern Mail visited the family on Thursday March 24, they were still trying to collect money to bury Mr Kayster as he wasn’t in a burial society.
The dog’s owner, who did not want to be named or identified and wouldn’t comment, said on his Facebook page: “Missing you my best friend. My dog was shot by SAPS for ripping apart a burglar who my dog caught in the act in my absence,” he said.
Grassy Park police’s Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith said an in-quest docket was opened and the incident will be investigated.
“One of the dogs was shot on the scene by police to protect and assist the man that was bitten by the dogs,” she said.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said no charges will be brought against the owner of the dogs.
He said if the dogs attacked the man outside of their yard, the owner would have been considered negligent and would have faced charges of indirect assault or even culpable homicide.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said on their Facebook page that they are “extremely saddened” by the traumatic incident in which both human and animal lives were lost.
They confirmed that the second pit bull involved in the attack had been brought to the SPCA by its owner.
A full clinical examination was carried out and no reason for any concern with regards to the dog’s physical welfare was found. They added that they will work with the dog’s owner and investigate the incident to ensure that the Animals Protection Act was not contravened.
There were several requests by people to have the second dog put down but Bernadette Abraham of the SPCA said this was not going to happen: “In this instance there was no contravention of the by-laws and therefore no lawful reason for the destruction of the remaining dog.”
She also confirmed that the owner won’t be charged because there was no contravention of any of the Animal By-Laws. “In this incident the deceased entered the property without the authority to do so.”
Asked how often they receive complaints about dogs attacking people, she said: “We receive complaints fairly regularly, however, our mandate is the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Pit bulls can be aggressive and are generally extremely loyal to their owners and non-human aggressive. Complaints are therefore mainly around attacks on other animals,” she said.
“I would not classify pit bulls as being more violent than other breeds – several breeds of dogs will attack if a stranger trespasses on their territory. They are, however, physically strong animals with exceptional stamina which may result in a prolonged attack and added injuries as a consequence,” said Ms Abraham.
Grassy Park CPF sent their condolences to the family of Mr Kayster.
The CPF’s spokesperson, Philip Bam said: “The facts as we have it is that a man accessed a private property by jumping over the fence for whatever purpose, only to be met by two fierce dogs de-fending the property.”
He adds: “Regular calls are made to the community to protect their property and make it difficult for strangers to access so that crime in the area can be minimised. It has been proven that dogs are a deterrent and hence the preference to keep dogs. People feel helpless amid the constant onslaught by criminals and need to take measures to protect themselves and their properties.”
He added that the organisation regretted the loss of life but wished to make it clear that people intending on trespassing and entering other people’s property without permission should understand the possible consequences.
“Nobody has the right to invade the living space of others, especially with malicious intent. We urge residents to ensure that they have adequate warning signs displayed, which most times are unfortunately ignored by the criminal element, but it could deter house breakings and home invasions,” said Mr Bam.